Meat eaters might want to reconsider their diet choices! A butcher has shocked the world by saying that when coming across cancer in pork, he and many other butchers just cut it out, and continue to sell to customers. And, this is just one of the many flaws in our food safety and inspection system.
Disturbing news continues to surround the safety of meat and poultry. One of the more shocking stories in the news is the acknowledgment by experienced butchers who admit to selling meat from animals found to have tumors or cysts. The story was picked up from a viral tweet in which a man who had worked in a meat market for five years shared, “This guy said he’s been a butcher for 30 years and when he sees cancer in the pork he just cuts it out then they still sell the meat to customers. SMH.”1 The reporter supports the tweet with the observation that the U.K. “Food Standards Agency revealed that tumours tend to be cut from fresh meat before they enter stores.”
I worked in a meat market for 5 years, this is very true. pic.twitter.com/g7NWguDvSb
— ☥Lucky☥ (@Wisethedome) November 16, 2017
A 2014 news article about a U.S. slaughterhouse accused of bypassing federal regulations and processing cancer-stricken cows reported, “Consuming meat from cattle with eye cancer involves no known disease risk to humans and the beef sometimes passes federal inspection and makes it to the public’s dinner plate, say food safety experts.”2 The article gave the example of a supervising veterinarian who had worked at a slaughterhouse in Idaho stating, “In his own experience examining about 80,000 cows, Jacobs said he probably had approved some with eye cancer that should have been condemned, surmising that other inspectors have done the same.”
An article on the Michigan State University website provides a detailed description of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service protocol for identifying cancerous lesions in animals both before and after slaughter. MSU explains, “Inspectors that observe potential signs of disease or things such as cancerous lesions or tumors retain the carcasses until the public health veterinarian inspector assigned to the establishment can make final disposition of the carcass…Cancerous lesions or tumors are not allowed to enter commerce or the food chain.”
As reassuring as this is, The Chief Leader reports that members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals (USDA employees in the Foods and Safety Inspection Service, FSIS) has teamed up with Food and Water Watch to raise awareness about the degrading of the USDA’s poultry-inspection system and increasing threats to food safety posed by Chinese imports. According to the union, “a push to privatize and accelerate poultry-inspection lines would increase the likelihood that contaminated product would reach consumers.”
According to the executive director of Food and Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter, as the USDA’s poultry inspection system has replaced union inspectors with company sorters, “a high number of defective carcasses” are reaching USDA inspectors. “The defects documented by the union inspectors but missed by the sorters included “visible fecal contamination on the carcass, scabs, burns, inflammatory-process conditions, tumor exudate (pus), sores and breast blisters.”
Stan Painter, chairman of the AFGE’s National Joint Council of Food Inspection Local Unions said, “I have been an inspector for over 30 years, and inspection has deteriorated because FSIS management permitted it to do so. We are rapidly heading backward to ‘The Jungle’ of 1906,” (a reference to Upton Sinclair’s expose of the deplorable conditions in the American meatpacking industry that led to President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1906 Meat Inspection Act).
Here are 2 videos that support this article and the butcher’s claims:
As more of us become disillusioned about empty safety assurances, there are a few steps consumers can take to protect our families. Taking anonymity out of the equation and getting to know the people who provide and process your food is actually an important step in improving food safety. The Sustainable Food Trust’s article, “Eating Your Values,” suggests shopping close to home and asking your local butcher questions like these:5
– Can you tell me about the farm your pork/chicken/lamb/beef comes from? Is it local?
– Can you tell me whether your pork/chicken is free range? Is it all free range?
– Is the beef that your source grass-fed?
– Do you make your own bacon/sausages/burgers?