As more and more people learn that the large amount of beef in North America comes from 5-10% of the feedlots, we are becoming increasingly aware that it leads to practices that can produce problems in the industry for the consumer. With mass cattle and beef producers striving to create larger profits and larger gains on their cattle they are continuing to develop and follow practices that can have negative fall out. So far this year two incidents stand out as exemplifying this, the first was the “pink slime” controversy in the US and the second was an atypical BSE case discovered in California.
Recently in the mail Nimitz Beef received a newsletter from Animal Welfare Approved, there was a very interesting forward by the Program Director Andrew Gunther that I thought was worth sharing. Keep in mind that this is an American publication and the regulations on BSE and Pink Slime are much more stringent in Canada, but he still hits the nail on the head with his statement.
2012 is already a year that the intensive livestock industry would like us to forget. Media coverage of ammonia-treated boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT)-otherwise known as “pink slime”-resulted in an extraordinary public backlash, particularly when we learned that 70 percent of ground beef sold in the US contained unlabeled BLBT. Weeks later news broke that a dead cow in California tested positive for “atypical” bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”). White the USDA claimed that the public had nothing to fear, the fact that the case was detected purely by chance did not go unnoticed.
What most commentators failed to note, however, is that the “pink slime” fiasco and BSE are both indirect outcomes of the incessant drive to further industrialize livestock farming and meat processing. In both cases, a novel technology was introduced (essentially) out of public sight with the primary aim of utilizing slaughterhouse waste to minimize industry costs. Most consumers had no idea that ruminant remains were being ground up and fed back to other ruminants; similarly, the meat processing industry did very little-if anything-to inform the public that BLBT was being added to most ground beef.
I believe that the recent public outcry is a symptom of years of latent concern about the over-industrialization of food production. Indeed, many consumers now have a profound feeling that when it comes to food production the pendulum has swung too far towards the surreptitious introduction of questionable practices on the basis of “what can make us the most money-regardless of the costs.” And the intensive meat industry is now paying the price.
Andrew Gunther 2012
Production on such a massive level creates problems in almost all industries, however; on the production of foods it can be harmful and less than transparent to the end customer. At Nimitz Beef we believe in a customer centered approach and caring for our animals on a level that organizations in the intensive meat industry will never understand. We hope values like ours will continue to spread throughout the industry as well as the beef consumer population.