Meat studies will make you ill

Despite the fact the US Department of Agriculture inspects all commerical slaughterhouses for conditions that would in any way contaminate meat products, two recent studies have produced some frightening results.

Samples of beef, pork, chicken and turkey were purchased at supermarkets from Seattle to Florida, including markets here in Arizona.  The poultry samples were found to contain campylobacter, salmonella and E. coli. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the studies also found something the USDA doesn’t look for:  strains of drug-resistant staphylococcus aureus, something that strikes fast and sickens nearly a quarter million people each year.

The cause: lax health and safety standards at processing plants, and a near-constant diet of low-dose antibiotics being fed to animals.

Here’s a few ideas on how you can protect yourself:

1) Buy from local sources.  Move away from supermarket chains, who are the largest consumers of overcrowded industrialized farms, and start supporting your local farmers markets.

2) If that’s impractical, find other local sources who sell naturally or organically raised beef, poultry, pork and veal. 

3) Pay attention to labeling, and ask questions. In some states, a producer and freeze and thaw fish up to 3 times and still call it “fresh”.  Know what you’re buying.

4) Learn how to safely store and cook proteins at home. Even the most expensive organically-raised, free-range chicken can make you sick as a dog if not stored or cooked properly.

Next step? Teach your kids how to eat this way as well. They’ll thank you for it later.

Local AZ sources: http://www.localfirstaz.com/directory/http://www.personalgourmetfoods.com/

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ.  (c) All rights reserved, 2011.

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