Again, there’s an article in The New York Times about E. coli showing up in ground beef, this time traced back to AFA Foods in Asheville, NY (whose website is currently “under construction”).
The debate among the meat producers is when the meat should get tested, and by whom. Cuts from the slaughterhouse are, by regulation, tested. It’s the trimmings that get sent to other companies, such as AFA Foods, that aren’t always tested and get mixed together from a variety of sources to become ground beef. Beef trimmings commonly used to make ground beef are more susceptible to contamination because the pathogen thrives in cattle feces that can get smeared on the surfaces of whole cuts of meat.
Last month I published a blog post about Stephanie Smith, the woman who ate a hamburger tainted with E. coli and ended up in a coma. Everyone seems to be concerned about the regulations around meat testing.
I think the larger issue here is the fact that we’re slaughtering animals from feedlots. When animals are pastured, there is less risk in them wallowing in their own feces in the first place, therefore reducing the risk of contamination when they are slaughtered.
I can’t say it enough: You are what you eat.