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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.

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Boing boing

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.

Originally posted to on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 07:17 PM PDT.


How do you like your E.coli?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Our Belgian Friend Eats Raw Hamburger Here (9+ / 0-)

    because the safety of American meat is renowned worldwide.

    --Oh wait. That was 1978 when History's Worst Monster was President.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 07:26:49 PM PDT

  •  if I may channel Eric Schlosser: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karl Rover

    plus ca change . . .

  •  Well, heck, just because an (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bebacker, Karl Rover

    "American Chef" selects it, doesn't mean it's American . . . of course, considering our meat safety standards, that might not be a bad thing.

  •  I Made My Super Budget Seafood Cioppino (6+ / 0-)

    for lunch today which was our big meal. We brought mom in from her assisted living home and made a party of it.

    The soup is half an onion and 2 halves of different colored peppers with some fennel bulb sauteed in olive oil partway, and garlic, oregano, thyme, fennel seed, and a dash of pepper flakes tossed in for a few minutes at the end.

    Some diced tomatoes and tomato paste plus some red wine added with the wine liquid reduced for a few minutes, then 4 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable, probably clam or fish stock might do) are added and brought to a boil.

    Then the recipe calls for a variety of seafood to be added. For our super budget version, it's a big tin of the large sardines sold in the Mexican food section of your grocery, which easily break up into tiny bits, plus a can or two of kidney, black etc. beans.

    We put a scoop of heated rice in the soup bowls and add the cioppino over it, which gets us about 4 meals for two for $10-12 or so total.

    I can't think of many dishes that are more tolerant of variation in the amounts of ingredients and spices.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 07:44:17 PM PDT

    •  you want tolerant? (1+ / 2-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      hhex65, kalmoth

      go vegan. Stop eating animals. God damn people who think they are for climate change, compassion, and general well being of all of us.

      Your "tolerant" is falling short of the word. How about that meal without the animals?

      -9.62, -9.23 hey asshole, I was once paid to fund-raise for the DNC and Obama. Never once changed what I said here.

      by bebacker on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 07:48:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That pretty much sounds like an attack... (12+ / 0-) me.

        God damn people...

        Doesn't matter what comes after that phrase, you lost me right there.

      •  or you can do what we do (9+ / 0-)

        I buy my beef at a local processor, owned by local ranchers.  No hormones, antibiotics or feedlots, plus I'm buying from people who support my business.  

        "People might tease me is not a valid reason to reject a subpena" Jon Stewart

        by gnbhull on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 08:08:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  or you can understand that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          killing is horrible.

          -9.62, -9.23 hey asshole, I was once paid to fund-raise for the DNC and Obama. Never once changed what I said here.

          by bebacker on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 08:28:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Everything that lives, dies. (6+ / 0-)

            And every life, with a few exceptions such as chemical-eating bacteria and lichen, survives off the deaths of other lives.

            Even going to a plants-only diet does not keep you from depending on the deaths of other beings to eat. It just gives you some separation from it.

            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

            by Cassandra Waites on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:03:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  aw cassandra (0+ / 0-)

              you choose to use the last argument for meat eaters:

              "Plants have feeeeeling toooooooo!!!!!"

              you are now done.

              -9.62, -9.23 hey asshole, I was once paid to fund-raise for the DNC and Obama. Never once changed what I said here.

              by bebacker on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:06:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't say plants had feelings. (6+ / 0-)

                That dirt they were growing in came from somewhere. At least part of it was an animal that died and was either eaten and digested by another animal or was decomposed by a fungi or microbes.

                Just because you didn't see it or cause it doesn't mean it didn't happen, and it also does not mean that you as a being that eats to live did not benefit from that death.

                Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                by Cassandra Waites on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:24:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have no problem with nature (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  do you think it is nature to burn the beaks of birds and drown the girls in foie gras factory farms? Is it nature to rape cows so you can drink milk? is it nature to steal the male offspring of cows and deny them basic needs so some asshole can eat veal?

                  I still don't get your point. My goodness.

                  -9.62, -9.23 hey asshole, I was once paid to fund-raise for the DNC and Obama. Never once changed what I said here.

                  by bebacker on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:36:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And I'm talking about animal agriculture that (6+ / 0-)

                    doesn't do all that.

                    A member of my family raises chickens. They're missing bits of some wing feathers but nothing else - they've still got all their beaks and are happy - and able - to scratch around his yard from dawn until dusk. And he's lost a few geese to the neighborhood feral dogs because they too get free-range time.

                    I said nothing about foie gras, and I like many other meat-eating humans think it's abhorrent.

                    I also didn't defend veal, or the current 'never met a bull' method of making calves.

                    You don't seem to get that anything but factory farming exists, or can exist, or ever did exist.

                    Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                    by Cassandra Waites on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:45:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  if you drink milk you defend veal (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      sorry. I know facts are sad.

                      Also, b/c you "have" animals does not mean you care. I "have" 6 cats and have never asked anything of them. Not once. I never thought about using them.

                      So you see animals as something to use as long as you think you are treating them well? Is this your argument end game?


                      -9.62, -9.23 hey asshole, I was once paid to fund-raise for the DNC and Obama. Never once changed what I said here.

                      by bebacker on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:50:55 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You were the one who mentioned beaks. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        slinkerwink, G2geek

                        Those chickens become Sunday dinners when they turn three. He sells them to someone else before that, but he raises them from pullets knowing what they're going to end up as.

                        Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                        by Cassandra Waites on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:53:50 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  mmhmmm (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:


                          -9.62, -9.23 hey asshole, I was once paid to fund-raise for the DNC and Obama. Never once changed what I said here.

                          by bebacker on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:57:22 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  If your only experience using (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          animals is that your uncle raises chickens, then that means that you consume no meat or dairy that your family doesn't raise?

                          Is that correct?

                          Do you eat meat at restaurants? Do you buy it at stores? Do you drink milk? Do you eat cheese?

                          •  It's my experience with animals being treated (0+ / 0-)


                            I don't have the resources to eat only meat that was produced locally. If I did, I would.

                            I personally could not survive on a meat-free dairy-free cheese-free diet. I've got enough food avoidance (to the point of gagging if I try to eat certain things) issues that wheat gluten and peanuts would be my primary sources of protein. If I personally did not eat meat, I would likely die of malnutrition. Others can go full vegan. I can't.

                            I'd rather the world went to less meat and more humane ways of producing it.

                            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 03:25:37 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  OK. (0+ / 0-)

                            So your story about how nice your uncle is to his chickens?

                            Is IRRELEVANT to your way of life. So henceforward you are not allowed to use your uncle's chickens as an excuse anymore when you're arguing with vegans.

                            Because you eat meat and dairy in the United States, other than what your uncle produces, then you - Cassandra - are contributing to the veal industry and the rape racks and the confined pregnancy and the tearing apart of mothers and babies. (NOTE: I'm not saying you're a "bad person" because you contribute to these things. I'm not saying you WANT to contribute to these things. I'm not saying you don't think these things are sad. I'm saying - BASED ON what you've told me - you are contributing, in a real, tangible way, to these conditions for animals.)

                            The other thing you like to say - that not all farming is factory farming? That is also irrelevant to your way of life. Because what you're eating? It does come from a factory farm. It would take an inordinate amount of research on your part to make sure that it didn't.

                            The number of farms has also decreased, and their ownership is more concentrated. In the U.S., four companies produce 81 percent of cows, 73 percent of sheep, 57 percent of pigs and 50 percent of chickens.[24] In 1967, there were one million pig farms in America; as of 2002, there were 114,000,[25] with 80 million pigs (out of 95 million) killed each year on factory farms as of 2002, according to the U.S. National Pork Producers Council.[23] According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry, 43 percent of beef, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way.[14]

                            You can't eat spinach? Rice? Kale? Oats? Lettuce? Broccoli? Black beans? Pinto beans? Great Northern beans? Lima beans? Green beans? Cauliflower? Potatoes? Corn? Miso? Quinoa (which is being considered for use in NASA's system for nutrition during prolonged space flights b/c of its high protein content)? Okra? Bulgar wheat? Squash? Cereal? Molasses? Walnuts? Almonds? Carrots? Sweet peppers? Eggplant? Bagels?

                            All the things I just mentioned have protein. In fact, all natural foods except fruit have protein.

                            Being vegan is as easy as falling off a log.

                            If it weren't, I wouldn't be able to do it.

                            Check out my blog for recipes and suggestions (linked in sig line).

                          •  No beans, no spinach, no kale. (0+ / 0-)

                            Pretty much no tree nuts, or at least not in volume enough to matter.

                            Count out okra too.

                            And bagels are wheat gluten. Bulgar wheat is definitely wheat gluten. I mentioned I could have those - but is the volume enough to survive?

                            And there's the issue of just how much protein each of those foods does have. Is it enough to manage to get a day's protein requirement in a day? Tree nuts and legumes are the two groups I know of that let you get to that level as the food occurs naturally, and except for peanuts those two groups are out for me.

                            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 04:51:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It sounds like you want the advice (0+ / 0-)

                            of an expert on some of these issues. I don't want to give you bad advice. I'm always thrilled when someone wants advice on eating a vegan diet. I'm not an expert, but I can usually provide some helpful information and good referrals. But it sounds like advice that would apply to most people might not apply to you, as I have actually never heard of someone being unable to eat spinach, beans, or okra, all three in combination. (It usually seems more people have the opposite problem, where they're looking for alternatives to dairy.)

                            So, here's what I want to address: If anyone ever says to you that you should eat a vegan diet because it reduces mass suffering and destruction to the home we all live on together....

                            Instead of telling that person that farms used to be owned by regular people and that your uncle's chickens are happy, so they're obviously wrong....

                            Just say, "I know, but I can't, because I have rare food allergies that allow me to eat animal meat and dairy but not green vegetables or beans."

                            Just say that.

                            We've boiled it down to the real issue. You are not an uncaring person, and you don't want to the Earth to continue warming up. You just have serious food allergies. Just say that.

                          •  Just because there are food issues keeping me (0+ / 0-)

                            from a vegan diet does not mean I WANT to be on one.

                            And it's food aversions, not true allergies, even if the outcome is pretty much the same in terms of what I can eat.

                            And I never said you guys were wrong about the way things are now, just that the options for the future aren't just the current way of doing things or removing all animals from the human diet. There are other potential paths to take that are better than what we've got now.

                            We need to go back to being partners in an ecosystem. For some that may mean local meat produced small-scale. For others that may mean no meat but eggs and dairy, or just no animal products period except for situations where alternatives aren't available.

                            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 06:34:21 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm sorry, but that's false. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            "For some that may mean local meat produced small-scale."

                            But not for anyone in this conversation. We've already closed this avenue of discussion. You eat from factory farms. Those are causing great damage. It's the immediate demand for meat that makes factory farms necessary. The immediate demand for meat has to go down.

                            Meat demand is increasing, and that is doing damage to the world.

                            None of us can afford meat and dairy. Our government subsidizes its production, so technically, we can buy a cheeseburger for a dollar, but as the trend runs (PDF), affluent cultures tend to increase their meat consumption. Because meat is more expensive to produce. You can grow a garden cheaper than you can raise a cow.

                            And as a society, we can't afford the public health concerns raised in those findings:

                            Polly Walker1, Pamela Rhubart-Berg1, Shawn McKenzie1, Kristin Kelling2 and
                            Robert S Lawrence1,*
                            1 Center for a Livable Future,
                            Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,
                            615 North Wolfe Street, W1033, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA: 2Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

                            Submitted 31 January 2005: Accepted 2 March 2005


                            The high level of meat and saturated fat consumption in the USA and other high- income countries exceeds nutritional needs and contributes to high rates of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and some cancers. Affluent citizens in middle- and low-income countries are adopting similar high-meat diets and experiencing increased rates of these same chronic diseases. The industrial
                            agricultural system, now the predominant form of agriculture in the USA and increasingly world-wide, has consequences for public health owing to its extensive use of fertilisers and pesticides, unsustainable use of resources and environmental
                            pollution. In industrial animal production there are public health concerns surrounding feed formulations that include animal tissues, arsenic and antibiotics
                            as well as occupational health risks and risks for nearby communities. It is of paramount importance for public health professionals to become aware of and
                            involved in how our food is produced.

                            I know you're saying to yourself: But not all farming is factory farming! But remember that we've already been over that. Almost all of it is, and average people who eat meat and dairy are almost definitely eating from factory farms, contributing to the demand that is fueling the whole system.

                            So, again. When confronted with these facts, just say that you know that, but that you need to eat meat and dairy anyway, because you have rare food aversions that cause you to have effects similar to an allergic reaction when you eat beans or green vegetables.

                            Isn't that reason enough to continue with your diet? You are physically averse to anything else.

                            You don't NEED to say that not all farms are factory farms and some people are nice to their backyard chickens, when you know that factory farming has reached critical mass and is now doing damage like it's the only game in town. You don't NEED to contribute to the false ideas people already have about "farming" and meat consumption.

                            I'm going to keep talking about being vegan, because it is important.

                            Please be one of the meat-eaters who does not go out of her way to make my job harder by rejecting facts, when she could simply say that she has food aversions that prevent her from eating beans and green vegetables, or even that she SIMPLY LIKES CHEESE.

                            Even if you didn't have these rare food aversions and you simply liked cheese. It would be better to say that than to contribute to false and damaging stories that obscure the immediacy of the need to act.

                            You could say, for example: "I like cheese, but the facts are still the facts. Raising cows in the numbers necessary to feed the growing demand for them as food sources is destructive. PS, though, I like cheese and I'm going to eat some now."

                            State your own issue, opinion, or preference. There's no reason to deny the facts.

              •  Your comments are pernicious (and anemic) (4+ / 0-)

                Do ya think we're part of the food chain? Above it because of our massive intellect? Do you swat flies? Where do you draw the line, bebacker?

                "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

                by madaprn on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:27:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  "Everything that lives, dies." (0+ / 0-)

              Since that includes you, would it be OK for me to artificially inseminate you against your will, force you to stand or lie in a stall until you give birth, take your baby and lock him in a crate for four months and then kill him? Sell your daughters away to be breeders? When your milk goes dry, I get you pregnant again and start the process over immediately, until your body is broken down before middle-age, and then I ship you to a slaughterhouse?

              Everything that lives, dies. So you should have no problem with the above scenario.

              Please take comfort in the knowledge that everything that lives dies while you are giving birth to your fifteenth child who will never be allowed to know you.

              I know you're going to think what I just said is extreme. So you can skip telling me how extreme it is and explain to me exactly which part of it is inaccurate. Which part of it does not really happen to cows or other "food" animals?

          •  yeah i agree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Killing is horrible, and that pertains to plants too.  I take it you only eat vegetables & fruits that died of natural causes?  

        •  The killing still includes (0+ / 0-)

          terror and misery. Sorry, it does.

  •  Any beef that I purchase raw comes from (5+ / 0-)

    Amana, which is about 20 miles from where I'm at now and can be found in a particular local grocery chain.  The only other place I get beef from is Nelson's Meat Market up the street from me.  I refuse to get anything else.  I've considered getting a quarter calf from a friend of a friend (who is the raiser of said beef), but I don't eat that much beef a year.

  •  Excellent diary, Karl Rover. (5+ / 0-)

    My thoughts are a mix of hope and well-wishing for Stephanie Smith and anger towards the corporation that put profits over the risk of injury to people like Stephanie Smith.  

    I was going to mention tort reform in your diary, but then I thought that it would be too much of a digression. But, since you've put it in your poll. ;)

    Republicans would like to cap this woman's damages and the punitive damages that a company like Cargill would have to pay.  Republicans have already gotten some traction with the issue as it pertains to health insurance reform (but it won't be in the final bill).  Companies that have, by their negligence, caused so much harm to people like Stephanie Smith need to pay real damages for the rest of the injured person's life, and when that person is 22 years old, $250,000 or $500,00 is not going to do it.  Moreover, when the damages are caused because of gross negligence or willful recklessness, that corporation should pay punitive damages.  

    "Obama, Obama, I love ya, Obama; you're only November away" -- cute ginger kid

    by Tortmaster on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 08:27:43 PM PDT

  •  Every American should read the NYT piece (6+ / 0-)

    It is a disgrace that meat is produced this way, in a nation that is not destitute. This is inexcusable, and the companies at every step of the supply chain are culpable.  And the governments, fed and otherwise, who should be regulating this and are lookiing the other way.

    I quit eating hamburger during the big Jack in the Box catastrophe in Seattle back in the 90s (6 kids killed, hundreds more made ill).  In 2001, while the rest of America was freaking about 9/11, my daughter was freaking because her younger half-brother was in the hospital ICU with E  Coli poisoning for weeks (he lived, but continues to have serious digestive problems).  

    I try to only eat meat that is locally sourced, by farms I know about; I don't need to eat meat every day. And ground meats are not worth the risk. And the local farmers are happy to sell me other cuts of meat. And I try to send friends and relatives out to buy from them.

    I believe that this situation will not be reformed until we quit eating industrially produced meat.  Vegan, vegetarian, or local-tarian--whatever your solution is, let's cut those giant meat producing corporations out of our budgets.

  •  Hamburger is nasty and disgusting stuff. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, G2geek, Karl Rover

    I read this story yesterday and am really disgusted with how nasty hamburger is.  This from a true carnivore. After I found out what hamburger is  made of and how they mix all the crap trimmings to make it I'm seriously thinking of never eating a burger again.  Won't stop eating meat but it will be real cuts of meat and not scraps swept up off the slaughter house floor.  YUK!

    What do conservatives conserve?--Carl Sagan

    by YellerDog on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:42:35 PM PDT

  •  Just don't eat hamburger...risky business. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Karl Rover

    The front page NY Times article the diary talks about has a scary chart showing all the different sources of meat that went into the killer hamburgers. Cow parts (it's not just meat but all kinds of body parts) came from four different locations and were shipped to the grinder plant to be turned into "hamburger".  Five total uninspected chances for the meat to get contaminated, which it did.

    Everything bad you could imagine about store bought hamburger was/is realized.

    I guess that means I have to bail on meatloaf which is gonna hurt.

  •  Deregulation over the last 30 years caused this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, Dar Nirron, Cassandra Waites

    It couldn't please me more to see true regulations put back in place to make incidents such as this a thing of the past. Meat packing used to be an honorable profession, and union. Now it's busing in illegals w/out safety nor honor. Read "Fast Food Nation" for an eye-opening experience.

    Judge Jed S. Rakoff is my new hero! We need more like him.

    by Logical One on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 03:18:11 AM PDT

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