The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled "American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties." Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.
American megacorp Cargill, which brought in $116.6 billion in revenue last year, is in the spotlight this week around the story of Stephanie Smith: the 22 year old children's dance instructor was paralyzed from the waist down after eating E. coli-tainted hamburger traced back to the meat supplier.
Using a combination of sources -- a practice followed by most large producers of fresh and packaged hamburger -- allowed Cargill to spend about 25 percent less than it would have for cuts of whole meat.
Ground beef is apparently composed of slaughterhouse trimmings, ground scraps and ammonia-treated fat, which could be from various countries. It knows no borders, and any part from any country is mixed together.
She was in a coma for nine weeks (that's her, hospitalized, in the photo below), and can now no longer walk. "Ground beef is not a completely safe product," one food safety expert in the article is quoted.
If you eat ground meat, cook the hell out of it. That goes for restaurants, grocery shoppers, whatever. Possibly the "American Angus Beef" encouraged someone to buy a mix of US and South American scraps laced with E. coli. Let's pray for Ms. Smith, and hope she has good healthcare. And a good lawyer.