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Yoga Korunta

Life & Politics

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Location: United States

One learns, as nothing endures but change.

02 December 2009

No excuse for tainted meat

Clark Behind The Headlines
From HLN's Money Expert Clark Howard

Have you heard about this E.coli outbreak that killed two people and made hundreds more sick? It’s because of a food processor in New York that had to issue a recall on a huge amount of ground beef. They weren’t testing for a strain of E.coli that was banned 15 years ago.

If you remember, in 1993 there was a deadly E.coli outbreak involving the fast food chain Jack in the Box. And as a result of that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture banned this strain of E.coli from meat and introduced new rules for companies to test their products. But they made it voluntary. Well, a lot of meat companies, including this big one in New York State, came under pressure from the slaughterhouses and suppliers and decided, “Yeah, well, we're just not going to test for that.” And as a result, you have people dead who wouldn't be, and people hurting who wouldn't have been. Inexcusable.

It is so third world that we have the ability to prevent these illnesses and deaths, and just because of financial interests of meat packers, we don't do it. But a few retailers are making an effort. Costco Wholesale processes its own meat, and it fully meets the advisory guidelines and tests everything they put on the shelves. It’s just something where you think, why would a business cut corners like that and why would the meat industry have people lose faith in the safety of the food supply just to shave a penny here or there?

You know, in capitalism, businesses that mess up get punished by the marketplace. And often they get destroyed like the people who sold tainted peanut products. But the fact is, the people that get sick or die are still sick or dead.

The answer is very, very simple. The Department of Agriculture needs to make mandatory the inspections for the E.coli strains that they know are deadly. Think about if it was your kid who died because some meat processor decided to cut a corner and not test its product to make sure it's safe. I find that very upsetting.

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