Scrutinizing the Meat Inspector

| 2/26/2008 10:26:05 AM

Amid last fall’s flurry of beef recalls, Meatpaper magazine interviewed Neal Westgerdes (article not available online), the overseer of all California meat inspectors—including those at Westland/Hallmark Meat, the firm responsible for the record 143-million-pound recall on February 17. There have been no reports of illness, but the industry’s integrity is in question. Now I can only read the interview, published in the Winter 2007 issue, with skepticism as Westgerdes explains how inspectors check in daily at all processing facilities and have on-site office space at slaughterhouses. “Consumers don’t get to go where I go and see what’s going on,” Westgerdes says, explaining inspectors’ role as defenders of the public interest. I wonder if Westgerdes would now be so quick to affirm that he confidently eats commercially raised meat, while hunting gives him ethical pause: “I don’t think those animals were put on this planet to satisfy our need for meat.”

Lisa Gulya

3/26/2008 10:00:30 AM

I think when we consider the "safety issue for humans" we have to remember the humans - usually immigrants - who work in these slaughterhouses and the physical and psychological detriments they undergo for a minimum wage. The whole setup is repugnant.

2/28/2008 7:47:35 PM

Footage of the distressed animals presumedly on their way to being slaughtered to satisfy meat eaters was nauseating. One hates to suggest the need for more regulation, but we do not want to die from the carelessness of some producers.

2/27/2008 4:23:29 PM

However "prima facie" the absurdity, the safety issue for humans isn't so much in the killing of animals as how they're raised. The typical livestock diet in America is grain, which in animals like cattle promotes problems of e.Coli and other health issues--if we are to believe the research propagated by grass-fed beef producers, and I think we can. There are alternatives, and as the world is only demanding more and more meat, it behooves us to explore them (no pun intended).

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