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Think Tainted Chinese Pork is Scary? Check Out the Nearest Supermarket Meat Case

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Over in China, the nation's burgeoning pork industry has been been busted for churning out meat tainted with an illegal and quite dodgy growth-enhancing chemical, The Washington Post reports. The banned chemical, clenbuterol, is said to "reduce a pig's body fat to a very thin layer and makes butchered skin pinker, giving the appearance of fresher meat for a longer time." When people ingest it from eating the resulting pork, they suffer "symptoms such as a quickened heartbeat and headaches ... and, in rare cases, die."

Something similar could never happen here, right?  Well, the poultry industry quite legally laces its feed with arsenic -- for similar reasons. Traces of arsenic do end up in chicken meat, in the poisonous "inorganic" form. And the pork industry regularly doses pigs with ractopamine, a growth enhancer that the USDA allows even though its own research shows that it stresses pigs out. The European Union and, yes, China ban ractopamine, worrying that it harms people when ingested. 

Then there's "non-therapeutic" use of antibiotics so popular among the four or five companies that dominate our meat industry. Eighty percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States go to factory animal farms, the FDA recently revealed. One of the main functions of this pharmaceutical barrage is to promote growth. The problem with routine antibiotic use on farms, of course, is that it gives rise to all manner of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, which then can break out of farms and infect the human population (i.e., us).