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Revealed: What the Beef Industry Pumps Into Your Dinner

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page.

If acclaimed authors Upton Sinclair ( The Jungle ), Jeremy Rifkin ( Beyond Beef ) and John Robbins ( Diet for a New America ) haven't given you enough reasons over the last century to be wary of the meat industry, then a year-long investigation by the Kansas City Star may do the trick.

Mike McGraw kicks off the KC Star's investigative series by introducing Margaret Lamkin, who has been forced to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, after a medium-rare steak she ordered three years ago at Applebee's was contaminated with a pathogen. The resulting illness destroyed her colon.

Of course we already know about E. coli and other food-borne pathogens; people have gotten sick from everything from spinach to peanut butter. But the news here is that what sickened Lamkin wasn't just the meat, but a process the industry uses to tenderize it. McGraw explains :

The Kansas City Star investigated what the industry calls "bladed" or "needled" beef, and found the process exposes Americans to a higher risk of E. coli poisoning than cuts of meat that have not been tenderized.

... Although blading and injecting marinades into meat add value for the beef industry, that also can drive pathogens - including the E. coli O157:H7 that destroyed Lamkin's colon - deeper into the meat.

By using this process (which according to the story, 90 percent of processors will use, depending on the cut), people are at a greater risk of exposure to life-threatening illness. And consumers have no way of knowing whether their meat has undergone this process.   


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