Consumer Reports does disservice to meat consumers
August 31, 2018
I was quite alarmed the other day when I saw a press release from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association calling out Consumer Reports magazine for running an inaccurate story about U.S. meat saying it contained harmful drug residues.
The article claims that drugs such as ketamine, phenylbutazone and chloramphenicol have been found in meat. They received the information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service after filing a Freedom of Information Request. However, the FSIS made a mistake by releasing that information saying that, "On March 3, 2017, in our haste to be transparent and responsive, we mistakenly released in response to a FOIA request, unconfirmed, preliminary test results for samples taken from poultry. We corrected our mistake with the requestor. However, the unconfirmed sampling results continue to be passed around as accurate, truthful information — they are not," according to a press release written by Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety at FSIS
The FSIS sent the final conclusive results to Consumer Reports but that information, although it was included in the report, was disregarded by "Consumer Reports' food safety scientists," according to the CR report.
"The results of this initial screen, without the further testing layers, are the data that was released in error. FSIS scientists spoke with Consumer Reports multiple times to explain this information, but Consumer Reports scientists failed to evaluate all the scientific results and methods objectively."
The article in Consumer Reports had clever photos of raw meat with bottles of liquid and topical drugs and pills on it.
Then near the end of the report it said, "The potential for problems identified here may be enough for some to consider eating less meat."
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And to top, it off their organic food expert said, "The USDA Organic seal can't guarantee the meat will be drug-free, but the additional rules and oversight do increase the odds."
That part really got my blood boiling, especially when the article also said that some of these drugs could be naturally occurring, which would impact both organic and commercial meat producers.
I'm not going to tell you, my readers, how to think but I hope that you will read a copy of that story and the press releases from the NCBA and FSIS and make up your own minds.
And you can read Rachel Gabel's article starting on page 24.
And, my rant is over. ❖