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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Cargill Plant Recalls Nearly a Million Pounds of Tainted Beef

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when news emerged that a Colorado grocery chain had churned out 466,000 pounds of beef tainted with antibiotic-resistant salmonella, sent it out to six states, and then voluntarily recalled it-but not until  weeks after several people had fallen violently ill from it? Well, they must be having some kind of competition out west, because now a California outfit called Beef Packers, owned by Cargill, the globe's biggest agribusiness concern, has issued an even bigger recall of beef tainted with antibiotic-resistant salmonella-this one involving 825,769 pounds circulating in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Utah.

Now, it's Meat Wagon tradition to convert such abstract-seeming figures into what we like to call Quarter Pounder Equivalents (QPEs). We already established that the first recall involved enough suspect beef for McDonald's to crank out approximately 1.86 million Quarter Pounders. According to our proprietary mathematical models, the current recall's QPE is 3.3 million. Combining the two recalls, there's enough dodgy beef out there to serve everyone in Los Angeles a Quarter Pounder-with more than a million left over for suburbanites!

But this is really no laughing matter. Here is how USDA descibes the situation in its press release:

This particular strain of Salmonella Newport is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

Just to be clear, "treatment failure" means, uh, death.

In my post on the earlier recall, I discussed the mounting problem of antibiotic resistance. Something like 70 percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States end up on factory animal farms, to keep animals alive and growing amid cramped, fiithy conditions that destroy their immune systems. There's a bill floating around the House that restrict prophylactic applications of antibiotics on farms; but as the NYT recently put it, "The farm [read: agribusiness] lobby's opposition makes its [the bill's] passage unlikely." Obama's FDA has come out in support of restricting antibiotics on livestock farms-but the FDA has little or no authority over livestock feed practices. That task falls to the USDA's Food Safery and Inspection Service (FSIS), which regulates safety issues for the meat and egg industries.