Category Archives: News

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria: Why eating farmed meat could help lead to a pandemic

Vegan MoFoI was reading an article in the New York Times today talking about a new report filed by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) about the rising risk for antibiotic resistant infections and how devastating a problem it could be become if not addressed. The article touches briefly on several points, the main being that hospital contracted bacteria is a big problem. I pricked up my ears at the paragraph about industrial farming and its liberal use of antibiotics. I read Michael Pollan’s 2006 book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, earlier this year and he talks about the same issues.

While there are only a few sentences mentioning this in the article, the author does cite the CDC’s report. So I went digging through the actual report to find this gem, “The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world .” This one sentence prefaces every argument that I could possibly make. Because even though liberal use of antibiotics in humans and animals alike increases the chances of breeding bacteria immune to our antibiotics, which could potentially kill us, there does not seem to be an end in sight.

According to the CDC, 50% of all antibiotics prescribed to people are unnecessary. From my point of view, almost 100% of antibiotics given to animals destined for American plates are unnecessary. Most animals raised for their meat in the U.S. are raised on factory farms or more commonly known in the meat industry as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). Rather than having fewer cattle graze small plots of land, which is what used to be the norm, the huge demand for meat means that CAFOs pack in as many cattle as possible, feeding them on a mixture of surplus corn and liquefied fat and antibiotics. Taking away the cows’, or pigs or chickens for that matter, space and diet is a recipe for illness, and therefore the answer is universally distributed antibiotics which American consumers are now ingesting with their meal.

The CDC, notes that this large scale farming practice is done to, “prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals.” The CDC report does advise against using antibiotics to promote growth in farmed animals, and later on in the report hints at phasing out their use to prevent disease as well, calling the practice “unnecessary, [it] makes everyone less safe.” However, that would mean scaling down CAFOs so that animals have healthy living conditions.

Image from: Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, Centers for Disease Control, 2013, page 14

Image from: Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, Centers for Disease Control, 2013, page 14

Reading through the CDC report was actually quite engaging. They have interactive and informative graphics like the one above and it was written so that non-scientists could comprehend it. There were more declarative sentences and less data than I would have liked but it was understandable and user friendly, which is the main thing. The report also stated that more antibiotics are sold for use with food-producing animals than they are for people. However, the real key to all this information is that widespread use of antibiotics in food-producing animals creates an enormous potential for antibiotic resistant bacteria because “these animals serve as carriers,” spreading resistance to the people who eat them. The bird flu, and swine flu of the past are perfect examples of how humans can contract resistant bacteria.

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Exposure: The Meat Industry’s Biggest Fear

Pink Slime: Why the Meat Industry is Freaking Out

Do ethics come into play for the meat industry or is the focus solely on profit margins?

What other additives are we eating that don’t have to be labeled?

The health-conscious community has been questioning the meat industry for ages. The revelation of the widespread use of ammonia-treated beef, otherwise know as pink slime, in ground beef has reached mainstream media despite the efforts of the meat industry to keep their methods quiet. The secretive methods of meat production makes you wonder what else they might be hiding. The production of food should be transparent to the public. People should be able to easily find out what is in the food they are eating, and food production should be ethical to the point where methods and ingredients do not need to be hidden. Unfortunately, the USDA does not require ingredients such as ammonia, which is harmful in high amounts and a household cleaning product to boot, to be included on ground beef labeling because it is considered a process and not an ingredient.

The USDA essentially cares about whether or not food or its additives are harmful for human consumption. Don’t get me wrong, that is absolutely an important and essential role, food should not make you sick. But what about food additives that are just fillers? Even if they are not harmful they are not essential. People are being tricked into buying food they think is wholesome when it’s really been stretched to the point of just meeting basic requirements. Pink slime, wood pulp, and even silicon dioxide, better known as sand, are all USDA-allowed food additives that are used by the food industry to stretch their product in order increase profits. Much like a drug dealer who adds flour or baking soda to his coke, the food industry is delivering inferior products to its consumers and the USDA allows it because the fillers used are not harmful, often not even requiring the ingredients be listed on the label. Case in point: pink slime.

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The cost of silence

Last month Mercy For Animals released undercover footage of severe cases of animal abuse at a Butterball turkey farm in North Carolina. Five Butterball employees are now facing felony and misdemeanor charges for torturing turkeys at their facility, all thanks to the efforts of Mercy For Animals undercover investigators who gathered evidence to prove animal abuse was going on in a big corporation factory farm.

Butterball is a namebrand that most poultry-eating households purchase, and yet it has deniability in this case since the company has set regulations as to the treatment of its livestock. However, what good are regulations when they aren’t enforced? In this case, the regulations seem to be a cop out to avoid corporate punishment and to let things blow over with the public. There have been arguments that undercover investigators should take more immediate action than spending months gathering evidence. However, Mercy For Animals has stated that their investigators always report animal abuse to their supervisors and are repeatedly ignored when they do speak up. This proves that corporate enforcement doesn’t exist; the big agriculture companies running these farms are just as much to blame as the employees who have been indicted.

The irony is that now these corporations are publicly outraged at their violated privacy. Just recently Iowa has passed a law declaring it a crime to falsely gain access to farms; therefore making it a misdemeanor for undercover investigators to expose the abuse going on in many factory farms. Not only does this dampen animal rights groups’ ability to investigate the treatment of farm animals but it sets a legal precedent that it’s alright for factory farms, or any farms for that matter, to keep their practices hidden and unavailable to the public eye.

This is the opposite direction we should be going. We live in an age of hyper-exposure: twitter, facebook, news outlets, etc. all can release information at the blink of an eye and gain widespread exposure within hours or even minutes. Yet the food we eat, the food that is supposed to nourish our bodies is developed in secret. Our bodies deserve respect, we deserve the respect to know what’s affecting our own well being as well as the well being of the animals slaughtered for our consumption.

If you couldn’t tell already I fully support Mercy For Animals and I believe that any company that needs to keep it’s methods secret is probably hiding something outrageous or illegal. I cry every time I see a dead animal on the side of the road, I can’t imagine how anyone could harm an innocent creature for the sake of production and profit.

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Why I’m glad I don’t eat hambrugers

Chains Stop Use of Chemical Beef

Ammoniated beef. What’s that you ask?

It’s the fatty, almost unusable parts of the cow that are treated with an ammonia and water mixture in order to kill bacteria. It’s been used in up to 70% of all ground beef sold in the U.S.

Why didn’t you know about this before?

The FDA doesn’t require the ground beef that contains this “pink slime,” as it has come to be called, to include ammonia in the list of ingredients since it’s considered a process for treating the beef. This “process” is so widespread because it allows beef producers to use otherwise inedible meat as a cheap filler for most ground beef products. And being absent from the label means that any ground beef products you purchase could potentially contain this sneaky disgusting stuff, unless you have a really good butcher whose word you trust.

I first learned about this from popular British chef, Jamie Oliver, about a year ago when he was crusading for healthier school meals in the LAUSD. He showed the process that goes into ammonia-treated beef; using an ingredient common in household cleaning products, that’s toxic nonetheless, and once the beef goes through a meat grinder it’s indistinguishable from regular ground beef. A quick and dirty way to get people to eat subpar food but charge the same price. Needless to say, if I did eat meat, ground beef would be the first thing to go.

McDonald’s has announced that it has not used ammoniated beef in it’s restaurants for the past 5 months. Which is great, but it makes you think about all that fast food you ate as a kid…

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New USDA school lunch guidelines: Michelle Obama pushes for better nutrition

USDA school lunch rules best ever — though pizza is still a vegetable –

Michelle Obama rocks; starting a vegetable garden and now advocating for better nutrition in school lunches. Kids deserve food that will keep them healthy, help them grow, and help them develop. They’re kids, for goodness sake, they aren’t aware or concerned with what’s best for themselves. They’ll go for what tastes and looks good.

When I was 11 I took a summer math class in order to get ahead and I ate curly fries and an It’s It ice cream bar every day for lunch; it tasted good and hit my savory and sweet desires, but nutritionally, it provided nothing but starch, sodium, and sugar.

The USDA, with a push from Michelle Obama, has announced new guidelines for the food that schools serve. Including whole grains, vegetables and calorie and sodium limits designed for specific age groups

Ideally, I believe that parents should be the owners of their children’s diet. Sending their children to school with a belly full of breakfast and a packed lunch is pretty much the only way to ensure your child eats healthy while at school. But that’s not always possible due to a myriad of factors, so in the meantime, we can be glad of the USDA’s changes to school lunches and hope for more health-based revisions in the future.

Hopefully the corporate food lobbyists will eventually fail and there can be a serving size limit for starchy vegetables (mainly, potatoes) and the tomato sauce on pizza won’t count as a serving of vegetables.

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Safe for human consumption?

Animal Drug Controversy

Apparently not. Manipulation of animals just adds insult to injury. Every time I see news like this I’m glad I’m vegetarian and I don’t know how people can knowingly support this.

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James Cromwell On the Treatment of Animals, Going Veg and Consciousness

James Cromwell, that darling actor you’ve seen in everything from Babe to LA Confidential to The Artist, may have a gruff exterior but he’s got a soft spot for animals. The website Take Part interviewed Cromwell about his views on being vegan, his motivation and animals as sentient beings equal to ourselves in all the essential ways.

I like that his opinions and experiences are so diverse and varying. His simple plan for how to become vegan involves a step-by-step gradual process that isn’t overly ambitious. His stories of acting with animals show how his thoughts on animals evolved to the point where he became not only vegan but an activist for animals. His views on animals as pets are a little more extreme and he introduces some politically correct terms that have a high mockability factor. But his heart is in the right place, he proposes that as long as society continues to deem animals as inferior property they will continue to be treated as such. The way people think about animals is just as important as how they act towards them.

“People eat unconscious of what goes into the making of the food that is in front of them.”

via James Cromwell: You Don’t Own Another Creature | TakePart – News, Culture, Videos and Photos That Make the World Better.

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