You Don't Know Where that Meat Has Been

"The Meat Promotion Coalition has been formed in the office of Washington's top agriculture (public affairs) / lobby firm, Lesher & Russell," reports O'Dwyer's. Coalition members include Tyson Foods, Hormel Foods, Cargill, the National Catttlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers, American Meat Institute, National Meat Association, and American Farm Bureau Federation. The coalition is pushing for voluntary country-of-origin meat labeling, as opposed to the mandatory labeling called for by federal agriculture law, now slated to be implemented by 2006. Country-of-origin labeling, which industry groups claim would be costly, has received increased attention due to mad cow disease.


It appears that the Meat Barons are putting themselves above their consumers...again. How is it that the meat industry moguls find it necessary to whine about the cost invovled in providing the same information on their product that the produce industry now provides consumers regarding fruits? Aren't consumers the ones who ultimatley pay their salaries and bonuses and therefore are entitled to the information necessary to make well-INFORMED purchasing decisions? Maybe we should all just eat tofu instead, that'll wrinkle their hide. Pun intended.

read Fast Food Nation, one of the most comprehensive, factual, and disturbing pieces of book-length research i have ever read... it chronicles in great detail exactly how the meat processing industry works and what they have managed to get away with over many years... you may never eat another hamburger...

a colleague i met while working on an economic development project in macedonia was a retired meat packing executive... he shared with me what i thought was a wonderful idea for keeping track of the origin of any meat, poultry, or fish product... actually it would allow tracking of any formerly live species used for human consumption... it's so simple and elegant, you would think it would already be in use... given the state of today's dna technology, every live species food product would have a dna sample taken and recorded in a database that specified all the necessary elements necessary for tracking... in the event that a product was found to be tainted or responsible for causing any illness, the dna of that product could be then used to make a match with the dna sample in the database... as simple and effective as it sounds, my friend recounted numerous instances of angry rejection when he posed it to feed-lot operators, industry association representatives, and fellow executives in the meat-packing industry who, as he told it, were adamantly opposed to "traceability..." when i asked why, he laughed... "c'mon," he said... "why in the world would they want to sign on to something that would make it easy to determine where meat came from...?" "avoidance of liability?" i suggested... "damn right!" he said... and there ya have it...

I just returned from Ireland where everything is labeled with a country of orgin label. Every item in the dairy, produce and meat sections of the supermarket has a label and they strive for as much local Irish sourced food as possible. I have been selling cattle into the conventional market in the US for over 25 years and there is no reason what so ever that meat raised in the US could not be labeled as such. The only reason it isn't is because Tyson, Hormel, Cargill, NCBA, NPP, AMI, NMA and AFB do not want it labeled. They know consumers will buy US sourced meat if they are given the choice and they know that choice could cut into their profits. Like the Hudson Institute's "Milk is Milk" campaign, these processors and industry groups want consumers to beleive that meat is meat. Voluntary lableing is nothing more than a means to gloss over the desires of the public and farmers for mandatory lableing.