The candidates for the presidential nomination are using the record beef recall as fodder for speeches on the campaign trail, calling for policy change and increased food safety. But there are things consumers can think about when purchasing meat that can protect their health now.
The federal regulation of meat processing plants that exists is supposed to ensure that only healthy animals make it into the food system, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, we now know that this system doesn't always guarantee safety: inspectors were present at the Hallmark Meat Co. that was fork-lifting downer cattle into the slaughter house.
Dr. Dorothy Blair, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State University tells the paper that consumers should consider where meat comes from and how it's processed. She adds that meat eaters should "eat local meat, eat grass-fed meat" and know their farmers.
Ask at local grocery stores and butcher shops if they carry local suppliers. Another way to access locally grown foods is by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where people buy into a farm and receive a portion of the produce. Some CSAs offer poultry and eggs. Shopping farmers markets is another way to buy from local producers.
While local meats and poultry can be more expensive, its worth the extra cost if you consider the safety issues (not to mention the benefits to the local economy). Dr. Blair worries that the pressures to keep meat prices low have a dangerous cost, adding that some processors use downer cattledespite the fact that it is against federal regulation due to health risksbecause profits on meat are so small.
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