How much do you really know about your meat?
It is no secret that the majority of the food products we find in our supermarkets are lacking in their ability to promote health and vitality. This is apparent in today’s epidemic levels of chronic illness. We have long known that the quality of packaged processed food is of lesser nutritional quality than those of fresh, whole foods. The food industry has marketed the benefits of consuming fresh produce, whole grains and specifically quality meats, but how is the quality of food determined? Who is regulating the food that ends up in our grocery stores and eventually in our bodies? This concept of “quality” foods is one that has been under serious question lately. The laws have changed and our safety is yet again at risk.
For decades, consumers have blamed the big giant food corporations for producing poor quality, chemical rich and unhealthy food. The finger has been pointed towards big companies for our increasing obesity and disease rates and yes, many of the accusations have been proven true. Sugary soft drinks do lead to obesity and synthetic additives in food have indeed been shown to contribute to declining health. These facts being undeniable, we the consumers have always had the choice NOT to buy these foods. We the consumers have always had the power to put these companies out of business, to read labels and avoid foods we do not believe will benefit our health and quality of life, to not spend our hard earned dollars on food that is quite simply dangerous to consume. We have generally been able to pick up a package of chips, turn it around and read what is inside the product. This then enables us to decide whether or not we want these substances in our stomachs, bloodstreams and cells. In a way, this has been the only predictability of processed foods, our ability to see generally what is in a product. The same is not true for our meat, especially today.
Until recently, there have been regulatory laws insisting on the inspection of meat coming into Canada from elsewhere. Due to recent government tax cuts, these laws are no longer in place. This is a disaster for our safety. This regulated meat inspection has allowed Canada to refuse contaminated or poor quality meat being imported from the US for decades, protecting Canadian consumers from potentially lethal bacterial outbreaks and protecting Canada’s strict laws against genetically modified growth hormones (RbGh) in the meat we buy. There is now nothing between the big meat conglomerates and our dinner plates guaranteeing us that we will not be gravely ill from our meals. We can no longer feel confident in the meat we buy. There is no longer a way to enforce truth in labelling of processed meat products entering out supermarkets. If no one is checking, a food producer can claim just about anything they wish to successfully sell a product, regardless of whether their product truly meets any of their claims. This is a devastating violation of our consumer safety rights.
Is it a coincidence that there have been large scale meat recalls and scandals recently? The Canadian food inspection Agency has ordered cross-country recalls for ground beef and animal products contaminated with e coli bacteria in the last few months alone and many cases of e coli related illness due to contaminated meat consumption have been reported throughout Canada. Could this be a sign that it is not safe to allow meat into Canada that has not been inspected? How many people have to be seriously ill with bacterial infections and how many must die at the hands of profit-oriented food producers before proper action is taken?
It is important to consider that due to the widespread, generous use of antibiotics in the feed of the typical conventional animals used for slaughtering, e coli contamination poses a much larger risk to human safety. Similar to humans, when an animal is fed antibiotics, the natural balance of good flora in the animal’s digestive tract is destroyed, providing an ideal place for overgrowths of pathogenic super bugs, rendering the animal sickly and prone to further infection. These sickly animals are then slaughtered, often in very unsanitary conditions and the bacteria present in the animal’s body may openly contaminate the meat. These new potent strains of bacteria are the ones we are exposed to when we consume meat that has never been inspected and the illness we will contract from this meat may not respond as successfully to the antibiotics used in the treatment of e coli food poisoning. The risk of death from a food borne illness increases tremendously when the animal consumed was not organically raised.
It is painfully obvious that the Government no longer considers consumer safety a priority in Canada. This consumer-protection neglect can be bought for a whopping 309,7 million, which is the estimated savings anticipated in three years from cutting out our meat inspection. It has never been more imperative that we take our health into our own hands. We cannot depend on the meat producers to send us safe meat, as is shockingly apparent in this past fall’s widespread meat recall. We can no longer depend on the government to protect us from food corporations whose main interests are to increase profits, regardless of negative consumer impacts. Meat may not have always been touted as the healthiest option but due to recent revelations, it appears it is no longer a safe one either. Life is risky enough, we are often exposed to chemicals beyond our control and necessary situations that jeopardize our safety. How much are you really willing to lose over a cheeseburger?
The following is a great link to learn more about the illness rates related to the recalls in Canada.