Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool

Month: February, 2013

BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part II

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Escherichia coli O157:H7, or E. coli as it’s better known, is one of the nastier strains of harmful bacteria and according to the mayoclinic “can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting” and can even induce “..a life threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)”

Something that the Mayo Clinic’s website gets wrong though is the conclusion that this bacteria can also be obtained by eating certain raw or undercooked vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are innocent bystandars. The spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and many others that have been in the news in recent years believed to be perpetuating the spread of the bacteria are not to blame.

To give credit where credit is due we must consider the source. Given the rate of slaughter that was briefly touched upon in Part I it’s clear that cattle are raised at an exponential rate. To accommodate this growing demand for meat the cattle are fattened up and slaughtered at younger ages all the time.

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Cows have a stomach with four chambers for a reason. The chambers are responsible for efficiently digesting grass, a rudiment animal’s primary food source. Cattle who are consistently fed grass have a healthy gastrointestinal tract that does not allow E. coli to grow. When cattle are fed grains, primarily corn as its cheap and makes them larger even faster, the pH level of their GI tract is changed and the abnormal environment inside these chambers allows the E. coli bacteria to grow.

The run off of either waste or remnants from the rendering process can come into contact with fruits and vegetables that are grown on lands nearby. This is then how these otherwise bacteria free foods become infected.

The popular and Oscar nominated documentary Food, Inc. explored one of the more shocking methods used to kill the E. coli bacteria present in meat from cows fed diets void of grass. Ammonium hydroxide, a mixture of ammonia and water, was known as an innovative process used by Beef Products Inc. to turn fatty beef trimmings, usually ridden with E. coli and salmonella into hamburger filler. Of course, Beef Products, Inc. provides a disclaimer about this process and how trace amounts of ammonia are not actually harmful to those who consume meat treated with it.

Beef Products, Inc. goes into great detail and fallacy about how ammonia is essential for life and evolution. Your body does in fact produce ammonia but it’s a by product of the production of proteins. This by product is then converted into urine by the liver and as part of a healthy body’s function excreted daily. However, should ammonia enter into your bloodstream and subsequently your brain encephalopathy –an altered state of the brain can occur. This can, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , cause “tremor, muscle atrophy and weakness, dementia, seizures, and loss of ability to swallow or speak.”

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Eric Schlosser’s novel Fast Food Nation provides a sad account of Alex a six year old infected with with E. coli O157:H7 in July of 1993 after eating a hamburger. E. coli O157:H7 releases a verotoxin or “Shiga” that attacks the lining of the intestine. I will avoid going into detail here concerning exactly what took place as Alex’s small body was destroyed by the bacteria. In short, the young boy became infected on a Tuesday and was dead by Sunday afternoon. He was unable to recognize his mother and father after parts of his brain had become liquified. The sad truth is that those who do survive HUS are left with disabilities and brain damage.

Honestly there is no lighter side of E.coli. There is no cure, no preventative measures or treatment that can be taken once a person becomes infected. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from a foodborne illness. These statistics are just based on those cases that are reported and do not represent foodborne illness on a Global scale.

There is no cooking your spinach “well done” to kill the bacteria either.

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BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part I

Oprah Winfrey caused quite an up roar when she swore off beef after having the Mad Cowboy Howard Lyman on her show back in April of 1996. Lyman discussed everything from Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad cow disease or BSE) to the hundred thousand cattle who are slaughtered every year in the United States (A figure that has gone up considerably since then). The Texas cattle rancher’s association then sued Winfrey and Lyman on the basis that their bottom line would take a major hit after her un-endorsement of their industry. The ranchers lost and Winfrey proudly asserted that “Free Speech Rocks” after the verdict.

Free speech still rocks and I will throughly be exercising that right as I discuss some topics concerning food and more specifically meat in this blog. There are many health issues including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and even cancer that can be greatly reduced or even cured with the switch to a plant based diet. The latter of those of course can not be cured in the later stages of the disease but can almost be entirely avoided when meat is no longer consumed.

I wanted to preface this post with the story about Winfrey as I feel it is still very much applicable to the point I will be making about vegetarianism/ veganism. While the naysayers will undoubtably congregate and spew what they spew best know that it is not my intention to convert but to educate and all forms of criticism and opinion are welcome.

Winfrey was most worked up about the prospect of Mad cow disease spreading throughout the United States and the practice of feeding cattle dead cattle. A practice that has since been banned as it was seen as the leading cause of the disease being spread in the United Kingdom.

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In humans Mad cow is known as a new variation on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and in 1993 was responsible for the deaths of more than 150 people and 180,000 cattle. CBS News Still it wasn’t until 1996 when the “Food and Drug Administration announced that in order to prevent an outbreak of BSE in the United States, the agency would “expedite” new rules prohibiting the use of certain animal proteins in cattle feed. Again it was even later “August 4, 1997, almost a year and a half after the FDA promised a speedy response to the threat of mad cow, new animal feed restrictions took effect” Fast Food Nation 

Slaughterhouses and rendering plants had scrap meat in excess and for them feeding cattle the dead carcasses of other cows was cost efficient. However, it wasn’t just the carcasses of other cows being recycled as food but also those of sheep, goats, deer, mink, elk, cats and dogs. The new regulations that were halfheartedly put into effect by the FDA soon required rendering plants to provide documentation proving that their cattle had not been fed any of the banned feeds. This was only successful after McDonald’s had pledged to not purchase meat from rendering plants without the appropriate certification.

What the FDA had tried to accomplish for years McDonald’s accomplished in a matter of weeks. I will have more on the diabolical industry that is Fast Food at a later date but in the mean time click on the link below to appreciate the weight of meat consumption.

Rate of Slaughter in 2008

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What does BSE do to a human brain? Mad cow is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the brain and spinal cord to deteriorate into a spongy constancy making the brain look similar to swiss cheese. BSE has a long incubation period and can go unnoticed in someone who is infected for as long as ten years.

Whether or not there is an impending Mad cow epidemic awaiting us  it is important to consider those who are meant to have your best interests at heart and whether or not those who make food safety regulations actually do. As recently as April of 2012 a dairy cow in California tested positive for BSE. Once believed that it was only transferable between cows when infected tissue was consumed it’s now speculated that the disease can spontaneously appear.

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