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Myths about meat

Published on 24 May 2011

1) Hormone Use in Meat Production is a Health Concern. The hormones used in meat production, such as estrogen, are the same as, or synthetic versions of, those occurring naturally in animals.

They are a fraction of the natural estrogen content of products such as soybean oil and eggs. Hormones result in greater production efficiency and lower cost to the consumer.

2) Meat is Less Safe Today Than It Was in the Past. As just one example, the USDA reports that E. coli 0157:H7 in fresh ground beef declined by 63 percent from 2000 to 2009 and the Center for Disease Control reported in 2010 that its goal had been reached of less than one E. coli 0157:H7 illness per 100,000 people. This has occurred while tracking of such problems has increased significantly over the years.

3) Grass-Fed Beef is Safer. Research has shown no difference between grass-finished, organic, natural, and grain-finished cattle in the intestinal levels of E. coli 0157:H7. This organism is a naturally occurring presence in the gut of cattle; neither production system nor type of diet affects safety of the beef produced.

4) Americans Eat Too Much Meat. The U. S. Dietary Guidelines recommend 5 to 7 ounces of meat and beans per day. The National Health Nutrition Examination Survey showed that men consume an average of 6.9 ounces and women 4.4 ounces daily of meat and poultry.

5) Meat Contains Saturated Fat and This Contributes to Heart Disease. Meat does contain saturated fat, but some 40 cuts of meat qualify for the government designation of “lean”. Regardless, a 2010 study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that, “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”

6) Inspectors Only Visit Meat Plants Occasionally. U. S. plants where livestock are handled and processed are inspected continuously, by as many as two dozen inspectors in large plants.

7) Americans Get Most of Dietary Nitrite From Cured Meats and This Can Cause Cancer. Nitrite added to cured meats plays an important role in preventing botulism. Besides, ninety three percent of a human’s average consumption of sodium nitrite comes from vegetables and human saliva. And the nitrite from cured meats is the same as that from vegetables. In a study by the U. S. National Toxicology Program rats and mice were fed high levels of sodium nitrite but no association was found with cancer. Finally, nitrite has important physiological functions in humans.

8) Antibiotic Use in Livestock Production Is Increasing and This Is a Human Health Risk. As far back as the 1950s, articles in medical journals cautioned against overuse of antibiotics in humans to treat illnesses for which they were not warranted because of the potential to create resistant strains of organisms. And yet, a recent study of pediatricians reported that more than half wrote 10 or more antibiotic prescriptions a month they believed to be unwarranted, mainly due to parental pressure. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock has been banned in Denmark since 1998, but this has led to a 110% increase in antibiotic use to treat sick animals. The USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety recently stated, “There seems to be little evidence after 10 years that public health has improved since the Danish ban on growth promoting and preventive antibiotics.” (Summarized from “Myths and Facts About Meat and Poultry” downloaded from http://www.meatscience.org.

This appeared in the May 2011 Texas A&M Beef Cattle Browsing e-newsletter. end_mark

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