Good Morning America had a story this morning that mom saw on the AARP site concerning a woman who ate a hamburger and wound up paralyzed from the waist down (after nearly dying). The AARP story, of course, gave more details and, I will be honest, the story is frightening. Especially since I have been hearing about this strain of e coli for the last couple of years. Diane Sawyer's comments were interesting and reflect our own responses here. We had no idea of what went into ground beef. Scraps that would once have been used to make dog and cat food are now processed for human consumption. I loved one exchange between Sawyer and the show's medical expert. They noted that freezing the meat doesn't kill this particular strain of e coli. She commented that heat should do the trick and the doctor noted that the hamburger would have to be cooked to thoroughly brown and hard. 'Shoe leather?' Sawyer replied. To which the doctor agreed noting that one needed to cook the burger to the point 'most people wouldn't want to eat it.' Both the Good Morning America piece and the AARP story noted that the ground beef most of us buy comes from multiple sources. The burger that caused the illness which paralyzed that young woman featured in the stories came from three domestic suppliers and one in Uruguay. AARP further noted that the suppliers often require legal agreements from the grinders they supply to NOT test the meat for any contamination and the contamination can occur at ANY point in the supply chain. Also interesting was the doctor's recognition of the source of the spinach linked outbreak of e coli in 2008--field contamination from runoff from an animal feeding operation nearby.
Mom and I have been discussing this since she read the AARP article to me yesterday. We have decided to explore a couple of different options. First, to see if the supermarket from which we normally buy our meat will grind the cuts we select on site. Second, to check out a couple of local meat markets with the same aim. Third, shift from ground beef to finely cubed beef and pork for chili and other such dishes. Fourth, and this is one that the doctor suggested along with the first option, grind our own.
This is only the latest assault on our consumers' sensibilities. We recently bought a ham which turned out to be considerably less than satisfactory. As mom cut it up into the various slices, cubes and 'roasts' we would be using she found squishy flesh and fat that fell apart it was so water logged. It was supposed to be fully cooked and smoked but did not look like it. The salt content is off the chart. We are going to check out other sources for ham next time we want one. That follows on a batch of beans (from a jar) which were so salty that we did not need to add any salt at the dinner table (and mom doesn't cook with salt). We have gone back to doing our beans from scratch (that is, from dried beans.) Even the canned vegetables are too salty for our tastes. We are considering our options there, also.