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Recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses linked to contaminated meat — followed by massive recalls and pledges of cleaner processing — have proved eye-opening for many consumers.

Dangerous pathogens cause 76 million cases of illness and 300,000 hospitalizations a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ground beef, usually made by combining meat products from many sources, is identified as a culprit in many cases.

The problem has sparked new debate over how best to make beef and poultry safe and prompted the government to pledge stepped-up inspections and enforcement.

Leading food scientists, safety advocates and manufacturers have implemented various measures for making meat safer, including some that ring of science fiction and others that sound positively janitorial. Still, the outbreaks and recalls continue.

As a result, consumers have become more and more interested in what manufacturers do to meat and poultry, to keep it safe, to make it appear more appetizing or simply to make it taste better. For each, supporters and opponents debate whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

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Article courtesy Chicago Tribune via cleveland.com

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