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Why the Free Market is a Joke. Or, How I Got E-coli from my Hamburger

SyphonBlueSyphonBlue Registered User regular
edited October 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
From the Consumerist/NY Times
Before you bite into that juicy hamburger, you might want to better understand how the meat industry creates, tests (or doesn't test), then distributes ground beef. A detailed investigation by Michael Moss at the New York Times proves eating it is "still a gamble. Neither the system meant to make the meat safe, nor the meat itself, is what consumers have been led to believe."

For one thing, food companies save money on ground beef by buying scraps of meat from multiple suppliers, instead of using cuts of whole meat. Two years ago, food giant Cargill was responsible for an outbreak of E. coli here in the states that left a woman paralyzed in the fall of 2007. The product responsible, "American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties," was made from a mixture of meat sources:

Grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

What's more troubling is that although the USDA recommends that grinders test each source of meat first for contamination, most don't because it would eat into profits. That's why Cargill never knew where the bad meat came from, even though it detected E. coli in a finished batch of burgers several months before the 2007 outbreak.

The United States Department of Agriculture, which allows grinders to devise their own safety plans, has encouraged them to test ingredients first as a way of increasing the chance of finding contamination.

Unwritten agreements between some companies appear to stand in the way of ingredient testing. Many big slaughterhouses will sell only to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli, according to officials at two large grinding companies. Slaughterhouses fear that one grinder's discovery of E. coli will set off a recall of ingredients they sold to others.

So does any company put safety over profits? Is there any way to find safe ground beef without having to buy steak yourself and pay a butcher to grind it? Try Costco. For the last 10 years, they've been voluntarily testing all of their meat before grinding.

Craig Wilson, Costco's food safety director, said the company decided it could not rely on its suppliers alone. "It's incumbent upon us," he said. "If you say, ‘Craig, this is what we've done,' I should be able to go, ‘Cool, I believe you.' But I'm going to check."

Costco said it had found E. coli in foreign and domestic beef trimmings and pressured suppliers to fix the problem. But even Costco, with its huge buying power, said it had met resistance from some big slaughterhouses. "Tyson will not supply us," Mr. Wilson said. "They don't want us to test."

That's why Costco sounds like one of the safest bets you can make if you buy ground beef. By comparison, a 2007 survey of grinders showed that only 6% of them followed Costco's safety protocol of testing source meat before grinding, while half of them didn't even bother to test the finished product.
http://consumerist.com/5374428/why-e-coli-still-makes-its-way-into-your-meat-supply
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/health/04meat.html?_r=1

2007 was right in the middle of President Bush's efforts to marginalize and deregulate the FDA. As proven again one year later with the outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter, companies do NOT always do what is right by the customer if it will eat into profits in any small way; even something like testing for e coli to make sure the people who eat their food don't get paralyzed.

I'm going to repeat one of the lines in the article again, because it should be the deathknell for any debate into libertarianism
Many big slaughterhouses will sell only to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli

The greed and contempt for human life in the way of profits is staggering.

SyphonBlue on
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«1345

Posts

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.

    It certainly helps me feel superior.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • SyphonBlueSyphonBlue Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I should really start shopping there. I wonder what Publix's policy on testing is.

    metroid_sig.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    But if anything is ever sold contaminated, everyone will stop buying from there, and thus it's in the company's best interest to test for things!

    You know, instead of investing in a PR department that thinks up new branding stickers to make it seem like it's safer now or from another company when things eventually go wrong.

    Ah, reality.

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

    I swear to god, I am SO boycotting the next place that kills me!

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Scalfin wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.

    It certainly helps me feel superior.
    CostCo used to be a big donor to the Democrats, I don't know if that's still the case.

    They're strongly anti-EFCA, though.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

    I swear to god, I am SO boycotting the next place that kills me!

    They're just going to grind up your corpse and add it to the meat pool. I mean they have a contract saying it won't be tested.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

    I swear to god, I am SO boycotting the next place that kills me!

    What I don't understand is that regulation accomplishes the same things as the "Free Market" crowd is seeking. Is their opposition to government, or do they think that some impersonal laws of economics will somehow evolve a "human" consciousness and direct the market toward our perfect utopia?

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

    I swear to god, I am SO boycotting the next place that kills me!
    Well, to be fair, the ground meat didn't kill the young lady in question.

    I'm sure she won't be buying from those suppliers again. That's one customer lost because of bad quality control!

  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

    I swear to god, I am SO boycotting the next place that kills me!

    What I don't understand is that regulation accomplishes the same things as the "Free Market" crowd is seeking. Is their opposition to government, or do they think that some impersonal laws of economics will somehow evolve a "human" consciousness and direct the market toward our perfect utopia?

    Regulation prevents me from making a FREE CHOICE to not die from information I lacked at the time of purchase about testing methodologies about the item in my hand!

  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    CostCo has great steaks. Like, steakhouse-worthy steaks. I say this as a man who had folks over for steak this Saturday. They ate CostCo steaks. They all said, "hey, GungHo... where did you buy these?" "CostCo." "Seriously?" "Seriously. You should try the pizza." "They got pizza?" "Yeah... pizza almost as good as these steaks. And spaghetti & meatballs... and double-chocolate muffins as big as a child's head." Basically, CostCo made a couple of hundred bucks off of me in memberships this weekend.

    "Adios, mofo" -- TX Gov Rick Perry (R)
  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Well obviously the free market will work itself out. People just won't buy from the companies that don't test for meat and thus kill people.

    Hard to buy from a company that sells you bad meat if you are dead, after all!

    camo_sig2.png
  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Arch wrote: »
    And people wonder why I am a vegetarian....

    Peanut salmonella for you!

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    So, wait, Cargill is doing things that are horribly unethical, but legal according to the rules and regulations that they more or less wrote themselves?

    I, for one, am shocked. Why have I never heard anything about this before?

  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Arch wrote: »
    And people wonder why I am a vegetarian....

    Peanut salmonella for you!

    Nooooooo
    Spoiler:

  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    So, wait, Cargill is doing things that are horribly unethical, but legal according to the rules and regulations that they more or less wrote themselves?

    I, for one, am shocked. Why have I never heard anything about this before?

    SHOCKED.

    Actually, it's probably not even legal according to the regulations. It's just that we managed to have a president for 8 years who got close to succeeding in fulfilling the Reagan ideal of dismantling any and all government regulations/programs. All the laws in the world won't help if the people in charge of regulating an industry were just 5 months earlier the lobbyist/CEO of a major player in said industry.

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  • zerg rushzerg rush Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.

    What were the other two? I also shop at costo (and love their steaks), and would be inclined to know more.

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    GungHo wrote: »
    CostCo has great steaks. Like, steakhouse-worthy steaks. I say this as a man who had folks over for steak this Saturday. They ate CostCo steaks. They all said, "hey, GungHo... where did you buy these?" "CostCo." "Seriously?" "Seriously. You should try the pizza." "They got pizza?" "Yeah... pizza almost as good as these steaks. And spaghetti & meatballs... and double-chocolate muffins as big as a child's head." Basically, CostCo made a couple of hundred bucks off of me in memberships this weekend.

    Avoid the fruit salad/mixed fruit/whatever.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    So, wait, Cargill is doing things that are horribly unethical, but legal according to the rules and regulations that they more or less wrote themselves?

    I, for one, am shocked. Why have I never heard anything about this before?

    SHOCKED.

    Actually, it's probably not even legal according to the regulations. It's just that we managed to have a president for 8 years who got close to succeeding in fulfilling the Reagan ideal of dismantling any and all government regulations/programs. All the laws in the world won't help if the people in charge of regulating an industry were just 5 months earlier the lobbyist/CEO of a major player in said industry.
    It might be legal. Most FDA testing 'requirements' for meat aren't really mandatory in the traditional sense.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Also regulations might be in place, but just unenforced. IIRC, the USDA and FDA have a lot of rules but very little power to do anything about people who break those rules. I'm vaguely remembering this from a clip of "Food, Inc." so feel free to step in and correct me/elaborate.

  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Scalfin wrote: »
    GungHo wrote: »
    CostCo has great steaks. Like, steakhouse-worthy steaks. I say this as a man who had folks over for steak this Saturday. They ate CostCo steaks. They all said, "hey, GungHo... where did you buy these?" "CostCo." "Seriously?" "Seriously. You should try the pizza." "They got pizza?" "Yeah... pizza almost as good as these steaks. And spaghetti & meatballs... and double-chocolate muffins as big as a child's head." Basically, CostCo made a couple of hundred bucks off of me in memberships this weekend.
    Avoid the fruit salad/mixed fruit/whatever.
    Noted. I'm not big on eating anything soaking in corn syrup anyway. Did you have a gastro-intestinal experience?

    "Adios, mofo" -- TX Gov Rick Perry (R)
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    zerg rush wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.

    What were the other two? I also shop at costo (and love their steaks), and would be inclined to know more.

    There was one on Consumerist about how lenient their return policy was (opened print cartridges). I forget the third one. It's just a weird coincidence as we just moved near a Costco and explored it for the first time yesterday (haven't gotten a membership yet, as we are currently car-less).

  • override367override367 Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The free market only (potentially) works if people are informed, and a viewer of the average MSM is likely to be less informed than someone who just guesses at how everything is

    The thing is, if everyone was informed, the "market" would almost certainly demand more government regulations.

    XBLIVE: Biggestoverride
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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    zerg rush wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.
    What were the other two? I also shop at costo (and love their steaks), and would be inclined to know more.
    There was one on Consumerist about how lenient their return policy was (opened print cartridges). I forget the third one. It's just a weird coincidence as we just moved near a Costco and explored it for the first time yesterday (haven't gotten a membership yet, as we are currently car-less).
    Costco makes regular appearances in Forbes' top 100 companies to work for, too. They treat their employees really well.

  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The free market only (potentially) works if people are informed, and a viewer of the average MSM is likely to be less informed than someone who just guesses at how everything is

    The thing is, if everyone was informed, the "market" would almost certainly demand more government regulations.

    The "invisible hand of the market" argument completely underestimates how much more of a factor price is than anything else.

    steam_sig.png
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    GungHo wrote: »
    Scalfin wrote: »
    GungHo wrote: »
    CostCo has great steaks. Like, steakhouse-worthy steaks. I say this as a man who had folks over for steak this Saturday. They ate CostCo steaks. They all said, "hey, GungHo... where did you buy these?" "CostCo." "Seriously?" "Seriously. You should try the pizza." "They got pizza?" "Yeah... pizza almost as good as these steaks. And spaghetti & meatballs... and double-chocolate muffins as big as a child's head." Basically, CostCo made a couple of hundred bucks off of me in memberships this weekend.
    Avoid the fruit salad/mixed fruit/whatever.
    Noted. I'm not big on eating anything soaking in corn syrup anyway. Did you have a gastro-intestinal experience?

    It might just be citrus from the pineapple (am I the only one to notice that fresh pineapple gets painfully acidic by the time you get to the ones at the bottom of the container?), but it always tastes really bad.

    The Asian pears are divine, though.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Goddamnit, is there any reason I shouldn't hook up a leafblower to a bag of my money and point it at Costco?

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The free market only (potentially) works if people are informed, and a viewer of the average MSM is likely to be less informed than someone who just guesses at how everything is

    The thing is, if everyone was informed, the "market" would almost certainly demand more government regulations.
    Ironically, government regulations usually exist because the market demands them.

    Then again, that's why the government exists too.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The free market only (potentially) works if people are informed, and a viewer of the average MSM is likely to be less informed than someone who just guesses at how everything is

    The thing is, if everyone was informed, the "market" would almost certainly demand more government regulations.
    There's also a rather low practical limit on how informed a consumer you can be.

    I wouldn't expect that, for instance, every single person on Earth getting an MD would be feasible, and yet that's necessary to make medical decisions in the face of absolutely no regulation.

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Goddamnit, is there any reason I shouldn't hook up a leafblower to a bag of my money and point it at Costco?
    They're anti-Employee Free Choice Act, if that matters to you.

    They're also not great when it comes to environmental issues, but they aren't the worst either.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    zerg rush wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.
    What were the other two? I also shop at costo (and love their steaks), and would be inclined to know more.
    There was one on Consumerist about how lenient their return policy was (opened print cartridges). I forget the third one. It's just a weird coincidence as we just moved near a Costco and explored it for the first time yesterday (haven't gotten a membership yet, as we are currently car-less).
    Costco makes regular appearances in Forbes' top 100 companies to work for, too. They treat their employees really well.

    According to Wikipedia, they essentially let the union negotiate for all employees.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • RustRust __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2009
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    zerg rush wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Man this is like the third unique thing I've seen in a span of hours about how awesome Costco is.
    What were the other two? I also shop at costo (and love their steaks), and would be inclined to know more.
    There was one on Consumerist about how lenient their return policy was (opened print cartridges). I forget the third one. It's just a weird coincidence as we just moved near a Costco and explored it for the first time yesterday (haven't gotten a membership yet, as we are currently car-less).
    Costco makes regular appearances in Forbes' top 100 companies to work for, too. They treat their employees really well.

    According to Wikipedia, they essentially let the union negotiate for all employees.

    so they are basically bizarro-walmart

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The chocolate-covered almonds are trouble.

    They aren't particularly delicious, just sufficiently delicious such that you cannot stop eating them. And they come in giant tubs.

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Rust wrote: »
    so they are basically bizarro-walmart

    http://www.seattlepi.com/business/182915_costco21.html

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • Erich ZahnErich Zahn Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I went to a CostCo back east once. And everything I bought was intact. And I wasn't padded down upon entrance and exit by the stereotypical fat security guard.

    Why the fuck don't we have them everywhere?

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    Erich Zahn wrote: »
    I went to a CostCo back east once. And everything I bought was intact. And I wasn't padded down upon entrance and exit by the stereotypical fat security guard.

    Why the fuck don't we have them everywhere?

    Walmart, probably, although they do have a model very reliant on shipping centers, so I can see them holding to the coasts (even though that doesn't explain their absence in the south).

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The saturation of Walmarts keeps them from pushing into places like the south and the midwest.

    There just aren't room for them in the market when there's a Walmart serving every couple thousand people in the red states.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Rust wrote: »
    so they are basically bizarro-walmart

    http://www.seattlepi.com/business/182915_costco21.html

    http://www.slate.com/id/2104988/ - 2004 article where Costco=Kerry, Walmart=Bush
    http://www.slate.com/id/2194332/ - More comparisons from Slate

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
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