Evaluative Essay On Meat Inspection

1296 words - 5 pages

Contaminated MeatsOver the past few decades there has been an increase in the number of food related illness. Everyday in the U.S., roughly 15,000 are sickened by food borne disease, 900 are hospitalized, and 14 die (Schlosser 195). This increase is a result of the current meat regulation standards that are ineffective in protecting consumers from contaminated meats. These inabilities pose a threat to anyone who consumes beef in the United States. As a means of validating this claim I will focus on three factors: current standards for meat processing, the process of Federal oversight, and the recall of contaminated foods.Much has changed since Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906, but there are still many problems in current meat packing standards. American meat production has never before been so centralized: thirteen large packinghouses now slaughter most of the beef consumed in the United States (Schlosser 196). This consolidation onto huge feedlots, slaughterhouses, and hamburger grinders has provided a means for pathogens to become widely dispersed in the nation's food supply. The same knives on the production line cut every piece of meat and are supposed to be cleaned and disinfected every few minutes. However workers in a hurry tend to forget, resulting in one contaminated knife spreading germs to everything it touches. The consequences of a single error are multiplied as hundreds of carcasses quickly move down the same line. The overworked, often illiterate, workers in the nation's slaughterhouses do not always understand the importance of good hygiene. They drop meat on the floor and then place it right back on the conveyer belt. They cook bite-sized pieces of meat in there sterilizers, thereby rendering them ineffective (203).The inabilities of the federal government to properly regulate the meat packing industry are our second area of concern. In the early 90's the National Academy of Sciences panel warned that the nation's public health info structure was in serious disarray, limiting its ability to either track or prevent the spread of newly emerging pathogens. Nevertheless, the Bush administration cut spending on public health measures and staffed the U.S. Department of Agriculture with offices more concerned with government deregulation than in food safety (Green). In conjunction with the warning by the Academy of Sciences, the USDA launched the Streamlined Inspection System for Cattle. The program was designed to reduce the presence of federal inspectors in the nation's slaughterhouses, allowing company employees to assume most of the food safety tasks. Company inspectors have been proven to be fraudulent, often approving the use of known contaminated meats. Today the federal inspectors of the USDA's Food Safety staff and Inspection service are demoralized and understaffed. In 1978 the USDA had 12,000 meat inspectors now it has about 7,500 (Thompson). As a result the USDA became largely indistinguishable form the industries it was...

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