Watch to find out more about the contamination of feces in USDA meat.
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Would you enjoy your steak as much if you knew that it was contaminated with fecal matter? But that’s the claim of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in their latest lawsuit against the government.
While there is supposedly a “zero tolerance” policy on feces in food, the Physicians Committee says this policy only applies to “visible” fecal matter.
This loophole has allowed invisible traces of fecal matter to proliferate in the US food supply into Americans’ kitchens and stomachs and they say the rise in E. coli outbreaks linked to meat is evidence of this.
However, the North American Meat Institute, which represents meat packers and processors, countered by pointing out that E. coli is not exclusively linked to feces. They wrote: “A swab of phones and keyboards would likely find E. coli, but that doesn’t mean there is ‘poop’ on your phone.”
But the Physicians Committee clearly does not agree and filed a lawsuit last Tuesday which is only the latest in its eight-year campaign to eradicate feces from the meat supply.
It all started in 2011 when the Committee conducted a study on 120 chicken products being sold at 15 chains in 10 US cities. They discovered that 48 percent of chicken contained fecal matter that hadn’t been weeded out.
In this latest lawsuit, they claim the proportion has actually risen.
While they did not provide new data to back it up, they say a change in how a chicken is processed can only lead to a more lax inspection.
This is because, in 2014, new regulations allowed factories to speed up slaughter and processing lines, to inspect up to 175 birds a minute. So instead of four people inspecting one line, only one person ends up inspecting each line.
To drive home their point, the Committee quoted a federal inspector in the lawsuit, saying: “We often see birds going down the line with intestines still attached, which are full of fecal contamination.
“If there is no fecal contamination on the bird’s skin, however, we can do nothing to stop that bird from going down that line.
“It is more than reasonable to assume that once the bird gets into the chill tank (a large vat of cold water), that contamination will enter the water and contaminate all of the other carcasses in the chiller.
“That’s why it is sometimes called ‘fecal soup.’
“USDA misleads consumers every time inspectors slap a ‘wholesome’ label on contaminated food,” says Deborah Dubow Press, Esq., associate general counsel for the Physicians Committee, who authored the lawsuit.
“Consumers should be horrified to know that USDA’s standard for wholesomeness is ‘no visible feces.'”
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