Where’s the beef? Or, rather, where has it been?
This federal policy requires labels on unprocessed beef, chicken, pork, lamb or goat to state where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Cattleman’s Association, and independent American ranchers agree consumers want to know this information. In fact, a poll in 2010 conducted by Consumers Union, showed that 93% of those surveyed would prefer to see the country of origin on the label of meat they’re about to buy.
The findings of the survey are probably a reflection of an article published by the New York Times in 2009 that reported “a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses.” The main reason for the mashup? The more stops that meat makes before it reaches your plate, the more likely to get scraps added in. Because of these random—somewhat undocumented and unexamined— add-ins, these meats are especially vulnerable to contamination. Serious cases of E. coli were traced back to these mashup meats.
Fox in the Hen House?
There is opposition to the new policy, however. Tyson Foods, Hormel, General Mills and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are just a few meat and food processors disputing the rule. They claim it is unnecessarily costly and will narrow opportunity for imported meats.
GMOs and artificial ingredients are attracting the food-watch spotlights, but the examination of meat seems to have fallen by the wayside. If you’re a meat-eater, make sure to consider your daily diet in its entirety.
The meat and poultry segment is the largest within U.S agriculture, and the source of billions of dollars. For processors to dispute the rule because of cost shows gross disregard for the health of consumers. So as consumers, we have to be responsible first. Pay attention and show care with the foods you buy and eat.
Have you seen origin labels on meat at your grocery store? What do you think about this new policy?