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Another Recall

If it sounds like déjà vu all over again, you’re not wrong. Once again, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced a recall of tainted beef products. It’s an expansion of the earlier recall in October, and this time a whopping 5.1 million pounds of beef suspected of being contaminated with salmonella are being stripped from store shelves.


Since it’s possible that consumers may already have some of the beef in their homes, FSIS is asking you to check for Kroger, Laura’s Lean and JBS Generic brands in your refrigerator or freezer and discard them, or return them to the store where you purchased them, CNN said. So far, more than 12 million pounds have been recalled and 246 people in 25 states have become sick, with 56 hospitalized.

How many more times does this have to happen and how many millions of pounds of beef must be wasted before government officials finally address the causes behind all this spoiled meat? What I’m talking about is an ongoing pattern of outbreaks indicating this nation is in a real food safety crisis.

The serotype of Salmonella implicated in the October outbreak is strongly linked to dairy cows. And since FSIS said the current recall is an expansion of the October recall, then it’s probably reasonable to assume that the same serotype is still involved. But dairy cows? Yes, dairy cows.

The fact is dairy cows are primary carriers for this particular, rare strain of antibiotic-resistant salmonella, but the point is that outbreaks during October 2016 and July 2017 were also linked to this dairy cow disease. And the truth is the reason that dairy cows are involved is because they are often sold for meat when their milk production drops — and that means the ground beef you buy is far more likely to contain the meat of old or sick cows than healthy ones.

Unfortunately, infected dairy cow meat can even affect grass fed products, as evidenced in this recall. While meat from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) really should not be used as filler in certified grass fed products, the infection may still spread via contaminated processing equipment, which by law must take place only once every 24 hours.

The thing is, there are safety risks involved because 80 percent of U.S. beef products are processed by just four slaughtering companies: Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS USA and National Beef. With so much meat being processed by so few companies, any given outbreak is capable of affecting enormous amounts of product.

But what if I told you that another point of interest is the fact that salmonella (unlike E. coli) is not considered a hazardous adulterant in meat, and processors are therefore not required to test for it? That certainly adds a whole dimension to the equation, doesn’t it — meaning no one’s going to know whether your hamburger is tainted or not until somebody — or a few hundred —

The bottom line is all these factors are reasons to buy meat certified grass fed by the American Grassfed Association (AGA). By virtue of how the animals are raised, AGA-certified meats are far less likely to be contaminated with hazardous pathogens in the first place.

AGA grass fed certification is also the only label able to guarantee that the meat comes from animals that:

• Have been fed a 100 percent forage diet

• Have never been confined in a feedlo

t • Have never received antibiotics or hormones

• Were born and raised on American family farms (a vast majority of the grass fed meats sold in grocery stores are imported, and without COOL labeling, there's no telling where it came from or what standards were followed)

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