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Entries in Beef (11)

Thursday
Jul262012

Meat Industry Has Beef with Meatless Monday, Forces USDA Retraction

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The USDA has retracted its support for an initiative to cut meat from Americans’ Monday diets, caving in to pressure from livestock producers and complaints from a Kansas Senator.

The original plug appeared in the USDA’s internal “Greening Headquarters Update” on Monday, where three paragraphs on the third page mentioned Meatless Mondays, an initiative by Monday Campaigns, Inc.  The update called them a “simple way to reduce your environmental impact.”

The memo went on to say that animal agriculture -- beef production in particular -- wastes water, fertilizer, fossil fuels and other resources. It also contributes to global climate change, the memo said.

“Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results,” the newsletter said. “Did you notice that our cafeterias have tasty meatless options?”

Well, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association noticed.

The association’s president, J.D. Alexander, said the newsletter called into question the USDA’s “commitment” to farmers and ranchers. He called the newsletter “awakening,” and condemned the agency for failing to understand efforts made to produce food sustainably. He cited progress the industry has made over the last 30 years to produce more meat with fewer environmental costs.

“This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet,” Alexander said.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., noticed, too. Once he saw Twitter responses to the USDA’s promotion of Meatless Mondays, he immediately printed out the USDA’s newsletter and headed down to the Senate floor, his aide, Garrette Silverman told ABC News. Kansas is the third-largest beef producer in the country.

“We are a beef-producing state and it is one of the items that improves our balance of trade as we export meat and beef around the world,” Moran concluded his three-minute speech on the Senate floor. “And, yet, our own Department of Agriculture encourages people not to consume meat.”

A press release from Moran’s office called the newsletter “demonizing” to the meat industry and meat consumers. He said the letter “attacks” meat production and fails to acknowledge livestock’s role in the economy.

“Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers,” Sen. Moran said.

By Wednesday afternoon, the memo was offline and a USDA tweet said it was posted in error.

“USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday,” the USDA tweeted.

Peggy Nue, President of Monday Campaigns, said she was initially pleased the USDA plugged Meatless Mondays this week, and she was surprised at how fast the USDA reversed its position.

“It shouldn’t be considered a threatening idea,” she said. “We’re not saying give up meat entirely -- just one day a week.”

Nue pointed toward the USDA’s most recent dietary guidelines, which came out in early 2011 and urge people to reduce solid fats and salts.

Indeed, chapter three of the USDA document, titled “Foods and Food Components to Reduce,” includes 14 mentions of the word “beef” and nine mentions of the word “meat.”

“There really is a conflict in their mission,” Nue said. “On one hand, they represent the meat industry, and on the other, they’re putting out dietary guidelines to make America healthier.”

It’s all too familiar to Professor Walter Willett, who chairs the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. When the USDA replaced its food pyramid with the “Healthy Eating Plate” last year, he told the Wall Street Journal it was “pretty useless” and designed his own.

“There’s a lot of schizophrenia within the department,” Willett said, citing the USDA’s promotion of cheese and beef consumption despite its warnings about saturated fats. “If you really believed in the dietary guidelines and you’re really promoting the dietary guidelines, Meatless Monday is a great thing to do.”

Willett said the newsletter also rightfully depicted red meat as environmentally taxing. Cows take two to three years to mature before they can be sold, they use a considerable amount of resources, and they produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

“Without question, the 1,000-pound steer in the room in terms of environmental impact is beef,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

French Farmers Give Cows Wine to Improve Taste of Beef

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- We've heard of cow tipping, but what about tipsy cows? Some French farmers are now serving their cattle up to two bottles of wine a day, claiming it improves the taste of the meat.

It all began with winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy, who had heard of studies in Spain and Canada that showed the benefits of a happy cow. With the help of farmer Claude Chaballier, who had a surplus of cows, he decided to test the theory, Agence France-Presse reports.

They started out slowly. In 2011, the pair began feeding three cows pomace, or diluted pressed grapes that were left over from the fall harvest. After a while, the cows were given the good stuff -- up to two bottles of wine per day.

And although it sounds like a lot of alcohol, Tastavy said the amount of wine given to each cow is based on official recommendations.

"For each animal, alcohol intake should be equivalent to the amount recommended by health authorities for a man -- namely two or three glasses of wine a day," Tastavy told the AFP. "In the case of cows, this amounts to between a liter and a liter and a half a day."

The cows aren't the only ones benefiting from experiment -- those eating the meat of the wine-drinking cattle are raving about its unique taste.

Chef Laurent Pourcel told the AFP that the meat has a "very special texture, beautiful, marbled and tender, which caramelizes while cooking."

The new beef even has a new name. It's being branded as vinbonvin, molding the French words for "wine" and "beef" into one.

But the improved taste means higher costs for farmers and therefore higher costs for consumers. Time reports the daily cost of feeding each cow has tripled, leading to a major increase for those purchasing the meat. One kilogram of the beef, or 2.2 pounds, will cost you upward of $122.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

‘Pink Slime’ Will Be a Choice for Schools

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has the learned that on Thursday the U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce that starting this fall, schools will be able to choose whether or not they buy hamburger that contains lean, finely textured beef known as “pink slime.”

The announcement comes one week after ABC News reported on the beef filler commonly known as “pink slime,” which is found in 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets.

“It kind of looks like Play-Doh,” said Kit Foshee, who, until 2001, was a corporate quality assurance manager at Beef Products Inc., the company that makes “pink slime.” “It’s pink and frozen, it’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”

Foshee said that he was fired by BPI after complaining about the process used to make the filler, and the company’s claims about it. Since then, he has spoken out against the product.

J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, defended the practice as a way to safely use what otherwise would be wasted.

“BLBT (Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings) is a sustainable product because it recovers lean meat that would otherwise be wasted,” he said in a statement.

However, the substance, critics said, is more like gelatin than meat, and before BPI found a way to use it by disinfecting the trimmings with ammonia, it was sold only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers.

But Boyle said, “The beef trimmings that are used to make BLBT are absolutely edible,” and Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for AMI, said there was no reason to label beef that contains “pink slime.”

“What are you asking me to put on the label, its beef, it’s on the label, it’s a beef product, it’s says beef so we are declaring…it’s beef,” she said.

The low-grade trimmings come from the parts of the cow most susceptible to contamination, often close to the hide, which is highly exposed to fecal matter. But because the treatment of the trimmings -- simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs -- the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

ABC News traveled across the country to the meat section of grocery stores to see if it’s in the ground beef they sell. At most stores it was impossible to tell for sure whether the beef contained the filler. At one store there was no way to tell from the labels, and the butchers did not know the answer.

There is only one way to know for certain that “pink slime” is not in your beef: If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

Otherwise, you can’t know from the packaging because “pink slime” does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar092012

Where You Can Get ‘Pink-Slime’-Free Beef

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After an ABC News investigation detailing the use of a cheap meat filler, finely textured lean beef, commonly called pink slime, which is in 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets, J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, defended the practice as a way to safely use what otherwise would be wasted.

“BLBT (Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings) is a sustainable product because it recovers lean meat that would otherwise be wasted,” he said in a statement.

However, the substance, critics said, is more like gelatin than meat, and before Beef Products Inc. found a way to use it by disinfecting the trimmings with ammonia it was sold only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers.

But Boyle says “the beef trimmings that are used to make BLBT are absolutely edible” and Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for AMI, said there was no reason to label beef that contains “pink slime.”

“What are you asking me to put on the label, its beef, it’s on the label, it’s a beef product, it’s says beef so we are declaring … it’s beef,” she said.

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But Kit Foshee, who, until 2001, was a corporate quality assurance manager at BPI, the company that makes pink slime, contends the trimmings bear little resemblance to beef.

“It kind of looks like Playdough,” he said. “It’s pink and frozen. It’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”

He and two former USDA inspectors told ABC News the filler commonly referred to as pink slime comes from a low grade of beef trimmings unlike what they call real ground beef. Foshee said that he was fired by BPI after complaining about the process used to make the filler, and the company’s claims about it. Since then, he has spoken out against the product.

The low-grade trimmings come from the parts of the cow most susceptible to contaminaton, often close to the hide, which is highly exposed to fecal matter. But because of BPI’s treatment of the trimmings -- simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs -- the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

The company calls the final product “Finely Textured Lean Beef.” Foshee said it was not as nutritious as ground beef because the protein comes mostly from connective tissue, not muscle meat.

But BPI, its inventor and primary manufacturer, told ABC News in a letter from a lawyer Friday that pink slime was USDA approved beef and was nutritious.

“All beef is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins,” H. Russell Cross, head of the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, said in a statement to ABC News. "Finely textured lean beef helps us meet consumer demand for safe, affordable and nutritious food.”

ABC News was flooded with questions from concerned viewers following its investigation into pink slime.

Many, like Dale Rittenhouse, wanted to know where beef with pink slime was sold.

So ABC News traveled across the country to the meat section of grocery stores to see if it’s in the ground beef they sell. At most stores it was impossible to tell for sure whether the beef contained pink slime. At one store there was no way to know from the labels and the butchers did not know the answer.

ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America and seven responded:

1. Safeway
“We rely on the federal government to help guide us on food safety issues. USDA has been clear in its judgment that Lean Finely Textured Ground Beef is a safe source of nutrition. However, we are reviewing the matter at this time.”

2. Ahold (Stop & Shop/Giant)
“Stores operated by the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef made with Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT), also called Finely Textured Beef (FTB). Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) is beef and is absolutely safe for consumption. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, which are the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA-inspected, wholesome cuts of beef. This process has been an industry standard for almost 20 years. Alternatives to the conventional ground beef supply, in the form of Certified Angus Beef and Nature’s Promise ground beef products, are available to customers in stores across all of the divisions of Ahold USA. These products do not include the use of BLBT. Customers are being encouraged to ask any meat associate should they have any questions or would like to be directed to meat that does not include Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. Our labeling is in compliance with USDA regulations. BLBT is USDA tested and approved ground beef and therefore does not require labeling.”

3. Costco
Does not use pink slime.
“Anything that we sell at Costco we want to explain it’s origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

4. Publix
“We have never allowed the use of LFTB (pink slime) in our meat. It’s 100 percent ground beef with no LFTB.”

5. H-E-B
“All our ground beef sold at H-E-B is 100% pure with no additives.”

6. Whole Foods
Does not use pink slime.

7. Kroger
“We do not use finely textured beef in our fresh ground beef. … We are routinely presented the finely textured beef as an option, but have always refused.”

An ABC News viewer, Miles Herbert, wanted to know, “Is there any evidence that organic meat contains this pink slim?”

It turns out there isn’t. If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

Otherwise, you can’t know from the packaging because pink slime does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb012012

McDonald’s Announces End to ‘Pink Slime’ in Burgers

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- McDonald’s has announced that it will be discontinuing the use of the controversial meat product known as boneless lean beef trimmings in its burgers.

The product was recently brought to the attention of the public by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who derisively referred to it as “pink slime” on an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

These trimmings, which consist of what’s left of the meat after all the choice cuts of beef are taken, are banned for human consumption in the UK, where they are instead used for dog and chicken food. They are legal for consumption in the United States, where they are treated with ammonium hydroxide in order to kill off bacteria such as E. coli and make it safe for human consumption.

Beef Products Incorporated, the company that had previously supplied McDonald’s with boneless lean beef trimmings, denied that Oliver’s show had anything to do with decision, saying it was made long before the show aired and was based on BPI’s inability to supply McDonald’s on a global basis. BPI also pointed to its recent placement on food safety advocate Bill Marler’s nice list and numerous food safety awards as evidence of its commitment to food safety.

McDonald’s also issued a statement confirming that this decision was long in the works.

Burger King and Taco Bell have also discontinued the use of boneless lean beef trimmings in their food.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Tyson Fresh Meats Recalls 131,000 Lbs of Ground Beef with E. Coli

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If you've recently bought beef, you may want to check it before sinking your teeth in it.

Tyson Fresh Meats is recalling about 131,000 pounds of ground beef that's contaminated with E. Coli. At least four people have gotten sick from the outbreak, although no deaths have been reported.

"If people do have it in their freezer, we would say please discard it," says David Sweat, an epidemiologist at the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

"You may contaminate your kitchen in some way, contaminate your hands, accidentally affect yourself or your children so it's probably best just not to, to deal with it at all," he added.

The meat was sold in 14 states at Kroger, Food Lion and other supermarkets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Beef, Cantaloupe Recalls: Tips for Preventing E. Coli, Listeriosis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. is recalling 131,000 pounds of ground beef that may have been contaminated with E. coli, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture officials said Wednesday.

This comes on the heels of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s assessment earlier Wednesday that the outbreak of listeria among cantaloupe from Colorado’s Jensen Farms has been the deadliest in a decade.

The CDC put the death toll from listeria poisoning at 13, while 72 people have been infected.

To date, there have been no reported illnesses connected to Tyson's voluntary beef recall.

Symptoms of listeriosis begins with muscle aches and high fever.

E.coli is often associated with severe diarrhea and vomiting.

You should consult a physician if you suspect you have been infected with either of the bacteria.

High-risk groups for both bacteria include the elderly, pregnant women, infants and others with compromised immune systems.

If you are concerned that you have bought contaminated products, there are steps you can take to help prevent E. coli and listeriosis in your household:

-- The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that you immediately throw away any food that was recalled and you think could be contaminated. For ground beef, all the products recalled have a “Best Before” or “Freeze Before” date of Sept. 12, 2011. Click here for more information from the USDA on specific brands that were affected. For cantaloupe, Jensen’s Amy Philpott told ABC News the farm shipped more than 300,000 cases across the U.S. between July 29 and Sept. 10. The farm voluntarily recalled its cantaloupes on Sept. 14 in response to the multi-state outbreak of listeria.

-- Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria from the cantaloupe. It could seep into the inside of the fruit.

-- It’s recommended that you wipe down with bleach the inside and door handle on your refrigerator, as well as your kitchen surfaces and cutting boards, if you believe you bought contaminated products.

-- ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS!

Here are additional everyday tips you can follow to prevent a listeriosis or E. coli contamination, recommended by the CDC:

-- Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources such as beef, pork or poultry to a safe internal temperature.

-- Rinse raw vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating.

-- Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

-- Do not drink raw and unpasteurized milk and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.

-- Eat perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

-- Clean up spills in your refrigerator right away.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Woman Dies After Injecting Face with Hot Beef Fat

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- An Illinois woman who injected hot beef fat into her face died Thursday of a bacterial infection soon after she administered the homemade cosmetic surgery. Oddly, doctors say the questionable injections had nothing to do with her death, which was deemed natural by Illinois’ Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Janet Hardt, 63 of Homewood, Ill., boiled beef, extracted the fat and injected it into her face before she went to the hospital complaining that her face felt as if it was burning, according to ABC News Chicago affiliate WLS-TV.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Hardt had infections and scarring in her mouth and on her lips, but an autopsy declared her death was a result of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen’s inner wall.

This bizarre story does not come without lessons, experts say.

“There are a lot people out there doing self-injections for wrinkles, but I don’t know of any medical associations that would recommend this,” said Dr. Phillip Haeck, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “It’s not worth taking a chance with your face to try to save money when it could ultimately cost you a lot more money.”

Hardt reportedly injected her face with the beef fat several times, and she also underwent several legitimate plastic surgery procedures. Because she injected herself multiple times with the animal product, Haeck said she was at risk of developing an allergic reaction.

“One of the injections could cause the skin to erode or ulcerate,” said Haeck. “We know that injections of animal proteins do not cause systemwide failure, but it tends to cause local reactions. A lot of people who have allergic reactions to animal proteins will say that their face is burning like this woman did. That’s probably what was going on here.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

New USDA Rule Could Prevent Thousands of Food Poisonings

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration said Tuesday it plans to order all U.S. beef, pork and poultry producers to keep their products off store shelves until government tests for pathogens prove the food is safe.

Until now, producers have been free to ship raw cuts of potentially contaminated meat and chicken to market before tests yield their results. The result has been inadvertent and preventable outbreaks of disease and costly recalls.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "Most establishments already do their own testing and holding of products," and many of the industry's largest producers, including Tyson Foods and Cargill, support the rule.

"We've had test and hold procedures in place at our plants for about ten years," said Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson. "While we don't typically favor more government regulation, we believe it makes sense in this case to mandate 'test and hold' for the whole industry."

But some smaller companies have opposed the change, saying they have a limited ability to refrigerate thousands of pounds of perishable goods while they await test results.

Vilsack said the new requirement to "test and hold" would prevent up to 25,000 cases of food sickness per year. He estimated 44 major recalls could have been prevented if the policy had been in place between 2007 and 2009.

The USDA says it inspects "billions of pounds" of meat, poultry and processed eggs every year, and conducts periodic tests for dangerous bacteria at meat plants and processing sites around the country. But the agency has waited years to make the "test and hold" policy mandatory -- despite repeated requests from the American Meat Institute and other groups to impose a uniform rule.

The new USDA policy won't take effect for at least a few months while terms of the regulation are finalized.

An estimated 48 million Americans, or one in six, get sick from food poisoning every year, according to the CDC. Of those, at least 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Do We Expect Too Much from Fast Food?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At Taco Bell, 99 cents gets a customer a beefy five-layer burrito: layers of seasoned ground beef, beans, real cheddar cheese and reduced-fat sour cream wrapped up in a nacho-cheese-sauce-smothered tortilla.

But a California woman is suing the fast-food chain for false advertising, claiming its beefy filling is only 35-percent ground beef.

"We are asking that they stop saying that they are selling beef," a representative from the California law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, which is representing the woman in a class action, told the New York Daily News.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Ground beef can have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders or binders added." The lawsuit, filed Jan. 19 in a California federal court, claims Taco Bell's "seasoned ground beef" is two-thirds binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other agents. The lawsuit wants Taco Bell to publicly come clean about the content of its Mexican-inspired products.

But for 99 cents -- and ready in seconds -- who expects Grade-A beef?

"It may be unrealistic to think that you're going to get a high-quality meat product at an inexpensive fast-food joint," said Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "Ground beef is an expensive ingredient, so it's probably one place they're going to cut corners."

Among the ingredients in Taco Bell's taco meat filling are soybean oil (an anti-dusting agent), silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent) and the common food additives maltodextrin and soy lecithin.

"In most cases, these additives are not necessarily harmful," said Cimperman. "They're added for shelf stability, texture and flavor."

Nevertheless, the plaintiff has a legitimate "beef," Cimperman said. But she hesitates to say the lawsuit will dissuade Taco Bell devotees.

"People who are interested in eating organic, grass-fed beef aren't eating at Taco Bell," Cimperman said. "I think that if you choose to eat there, it's a conscious decision to eat something less healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio