Here’s a roundup of some dumb shit in the meat eating world.
Remember a few years ago when there was a horsemeat scandal in Europe (https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/world/europe/ikea-recalls-its-meatballs-horse-meat-is-detected.html)? Long story short, horse meat was mislabeled and sold as more socially acceptable dead animals. Even Ikea, purveyor of the finest quality cheap furniture, was caught selling horse meatballs. If you can’t trust the folks that made replacing your bedroom set every couple years a necessity, who can you trust?
It looks like the mislabel game is still going on. According to Vice (https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/ywkany/uk-food-standards-agency-says-15-of-meat-it-tested-contained-mystery-dna), The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) tested 665 samples from restaurants, supermarkets, and meat-processing plants (slaughterhouses for those that like to keep it real), and found that 145 samples “were partly or wholly made up of unspecified meat.”
An FSA spokesperson told the BBC that the contamination was “not representative of the wider food industry.” Except the samples were taken from 487 different locations. I’m not sure how much more representative they could have been.
Back stateside, Smithfield farms had to destroy 50,000 pounds of pork after an employee was caught peeing under a conveyor belt in a meat processing plant (cough slaughterhouse cough) (https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/43emaj/50000-pounds-of-meat-destroyed-after-worker-caught-on-camera-peeing-under-conveyor-belt). Here’s where it gets crazy. Workers in slaughterhouses regularly report not being able to use the bathroom when needed. Maximizing worker efficiency by forbidding bathroom breaks is so widespread in slaughterhouses that some workers choose to wear diapers. There is no way slaughterhouse pisser is the first and only person to do this. When nature calls, you have to answer. I am willing to bet that this happens more often than the industry would like to pretend, only this time the guy was caught. In other words, people pee next to food for consumption.
It is not surprising that an industry that ignores any rights animals have is willing to extend the same treatment to people. Remember, eating meat means agreeing with this.
Food-borne illness is commonly associated with food poisoning, but a new study shows that urinary tract infections (UTI) are caused by bacteria found in meat (https://gizmodo.com/store-bought-chicken-could-be-causing-urinary-tract-inf-1828652990). By comparing samples taken from store-bought meat and patients treated for UTIs, researchers found unambiguous evidence that the E. coli strains responsible for many UTIs were from meat.
As yet, the E. coli strains remain treatable to antibiotics, but as antibiotic-resistance become more widespread, UTIs are likely to become a more difficult infection to treat. To that end, the author of the study said he only chooses animals raised without antibiotics. Presumably, this should decrease the risk of antibiotic-resistance. Without the selective pressure of antibiotics, animals, in theory, should not carry any antibiotic-resistant strains. This seems like a reasonable assumption, but as far as I know it has not been established, nor is it impossible for antibiotic-resistance to be found in animals raised without antibiotics. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a study, a farmer is not likely to take the risk of testing only to find antibiotic-resistance where consumers assume it is not. Ignorance is bliss.
If the best advice is to maintain proper preparation and cooking methods, maybe the best best advice is to not engage in such risky behavior like eating meat.
The basis of all -isms (racism, sexism, speciesism, etc.) is the idea of the other. The other is not like us. Treating them differently, in other words poorly, is acceptable because they are different. This is the basis for grotesque treatment of the animals consumed by man.
Society further classifies animals into levels of acceptable treatment. At the top are pets; dogs and cats are often treated better than homeless people. Next come utilitarian animals such as horses. Their owners are nice to them because they need the animal to be useful. All the way at the bottom are the animals that join the food supply. They are treated as machines. And at the bottom are fish. There is this idea that fish (and lobsters, frogs, etc.) do not feel pain. I can think of no better example of how stupid people are than to decide that another being is incapable of suffering.
The debate to reclassify fish as capable of feeling pain has recently swung towards reevaluation (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/oct/30/are-we-wrong-to-assume-fish-cant-feel-pain). The article gives a good summary of why fish contain everything physically required to feel pain, as well as experiments that show that fish do experience pain as we do. It also has a number of examples of fish displaying behavior generally only ascribed to higher-order animals (again, speciesism), as evidence that they are advanced animals and worthy of not suffering.
On the flipside, meat consumption is killing the planet. In order to limit climate change, people have to severely curtail their meat consumption (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-reduction-in-meat-eating-essential-to-avoid-climate-breakdown). It is one of the few things people can actually do to make a difference. Look, I drive a prius, but I am not delusional that it is winning the war. Current research projects that Americans need to consume 90% less beef, and 60% less milk, and they need to increase consumption of beans and pulses by four to six times.
There’s no clear path to changing diets for entire countries. Taxes, education, changing agricultural subsidies, etc. are all possibilities, but in this age of government lockdown, any centrally-planned action seems unlikely. Nature, is, of course, the strongest forcing function, but it would be best to not wait for climate change to get to that point. More than likely, you’ve heard this, you know this, but you have not changed.