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We've all heard folks talk about switching from ground beef to ground turkey because they've heard that turkey is better for them.
That's why we are giving consumers a close-up look at the FACTS, ounce for ounce, when it comes to beef vs. turkey.
Draw your own conclusions -- and help spread the word: BEEF is not only delicious, but also nutritious!
Learn more at www.MyBeefCheckoff.com.
When planning and implementing your New Year’s Resolutions for this year it’s important to stack the deck in your favor, to increase the likelihood of your success. Many have found great success enjoying beef as a top source of lean protein and essential nutrients. Here are 4 BOLD reasons to include lean beef (and its many benefits) in your diet in 2016 and beyond!
Lean beef satisfies a heart healthy diet
Multiple research papers published from Penn State University Clinical Nutrition Research Center on the BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study have shown that a heart healthy diet, including lean beef daily, leads to simultaneous reductions in a variety of risk factors for heart disease including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (often called ‘bad cholesterol’), and blood pressure.
Today’s beef is a satisfying lean protein choice to support your weight loss goals
Protein plays an extremely important role in weight loss, and lean beef is equipped to provide you all the research-proven benefits. Research shows that protein rich food like lean beef may help increase feelings of fullness and control cravings, while also packing the ideal levels of a key compound called leucine, which helps your body build calorie burning muscle.
Lean beef is packed with nutrients you need, not excessive calories that you don’t
Calorie for calorie, it is hard to beat all the nutrients you get from a single serving of lean beef. When you are watching and reducing your calorie intake to aid in your weight loss efforts, it can be hard to get all the nutrients that your body needs to stay nourished and energized. Just a 3oz serving of lean beef contains more than 10% of your daily needs of all these essential nutrients – protein (50%), zinc (39%), vitamin B12 (37%), selenium (24%), phosphorus (20%), niacin (18%), Vitamin B6 (16%), iron (14%), riboflavin (12%). With so many flavorful ways to prepare lean beef, you can keep your diet exciting and fresh
A major downfall of “healthy diets” is the doom and gloom associated with their bland menus. Lean beef brings the variety and flavors that you love with the health punch your body needs. Don’t relinquish your taste buds to bland proteins and steamed vegetables when you can enjoy dishes like beef chili, fajitas, and sweet potato hash.
Did you know that it would take 7.5 servings of skinless chicken breast (with 1,050 calories) to get the same amount of Vitamin B12 as is in a 3-ounce serving of lean beef with 154 calories?
Or how about 13.5 servings of salmon (with 2,363 calories) to get the zinc content that's in 3 ounces of lean beef?
And then try 6.5 cups of raw spinach (with 46 calories) to get the amount of vitamin B6 in 3 ounces of lean beef?
It’s true. Beef is not only delicious but also naturally nutrient rich!
In the wake of last week’s Congressional repeal of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) on beef and pork products, much has been written about the potential impact of the change on consumers. The claims from some COOL supporters range from arguments that we have no way of knowing where meat comes from to COOL is needed to prevent e. coli outbreaks such as the ones recently seen at Chipotle. Many of the claims are misleading at best and in some cases simply untrue. So what does COOL repeal actually mean for meat labels and consumer information about meat? Here are some answers to common questions and misconceptions.
Q: Why was mandatory COOL repealed?
While the meat industry has long opposed COOL due to the considerable costs to the industry with little consumer benefit, Canada and Mexico have also repeatedly challenged COOL at the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing it imposes trade barriers violating our agreements with those countries. After ruling four times against the U.S. in the dispute, the WTO set damages at more than $1 billion meaning Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs with devastating economic consequences against a host of industries, ranging from cherry producers to maple syrup processors to wooden furniture and mattress makers if the law wasn’t repealed.
Q: Is my meat less safe because there is no mandatory COOL for beef and pork?
USDA has long been very clear that COOL is not a food safety program, writing in 2009, “The COOL program is not a food safety program” and “COOL is a retail labeling program and as such does not provide a basis for addressing food safety.”
The current opening paragraph of USDA’s own Q&A on COOL states: “The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program is neither a food safety or traceability program but rather a consumer information program. Food products, both imported and domestic, must meet the food safety standards of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food safety and traceability are not the stated intent of the rule, and the COOL program does not replace any other established regulatory programs that related to food safety or traceability.”
In other words, no matter where an animal is born, raised or slaughtered, in the U.S. that animal is subject to the same food safety standards. A look at meat safety in the U.S. shows that 99.99 percent of meat is consumed safely. We can continue to improve food safety as well as tracking outbreaks when they occur, but as USDA says, COOL is not and never was designed for that.
Q: But what if I want to know if my meat came from China?
Quite simply, it didn’t because China is not approved to export meat to the U.S.
Currently there are 27 countries permitted to export beef or pork to the U.S.: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Poland, San Marino, Spain and Uruguay. In order to achieve this status, the inspection systems in those countries must be deemed equivalent to U.S. standards. The vast majority of imported meat (but still a minority of what we consume) comes from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.
If meat comes directly in retail ready packs from any of those countries, it still must be labeled as a product of that country. COOL repeal hasn’t changed that.
Q: Some of those countries approved to send meat to the U.S. have had cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Shouldn’t we be concerned?
Much like food safety, COOL was never meant as protection against BSE. Although BSE is now very rare around the world, the U.S. has numerous hurdles in place specifically designed to prevent BSE, including inspection of any meat that enters the country. Only food products that have been shown to be safe and do not harbor the infective agent may be imported. COOL repeal has not impacted these important steps.
Q: But what if I still want to know where my meat comes from?
There are still options for those who are interested. All meat processed to be sold commercially in the U.S. (i.e. meat not directly imported in retail ready packs and labeled as such) must pass through a USDA inspected establishment and meet all USDA regulations for meat produced in the U.S. All meat products sold on store shelves have borne this mark of inspection with a federally inspected establishment number, which tells you exactly where the meat was processed.
Although mandatory COOL for beef and pork is repealed, that doesn’t mean companies can’t voluntarily share the details of where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered. While most research has indicated that consumer demand for origin information is minimal, if companies determine that their customers value that information they can still offer provide origin information
COOL never applied to meat sold at restaurants or even processed meat products, such as hot dogs or bacon, so repeal has no impact on them.
Hopefully, this information answers some of the basic questions and misconceptions about the COOL repeal. The bottom line is that consumer demand will ultimately determine the future of origin labels. If country of origin information is something consumers truly want and are willing to pay for, industry will find a way to provide it.
2015 is not ending quietly
Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
2015 is showing her teeth one last time with a storm that is affecting people and animals across a majority of the country. The massive storm includes a severe side with rain, flooding and tornados and a winter weather side with snow and blizzard conditions, all separated by a band of freezing rain and sleet. The dividing line between these storm components runs across the middle of Oklahoma resulting in a wide variety of conditions and challenges for Oklahoma cattle producers. The one consistent component across both sides of the storm has been lots of wind.
Rain totals over the weekend across the eastern half of Oklahoma ranged from three inches to over 11 inches. This final blast of moisture adds to a wet fall to make 2015 the wettest year on record with a statewide average over 54 inches, more than 50 percent above normal. Above average moisture totals cover the state ranging from record precipitation totals in the south central, southeast and east central parts of the state to the Panhandle, which has seen the second highest moisture total on record in 2015. Yearly rainfall totals through December 27 range from over 77 inches in the southeast, 154 percent of normal, to over 31 inches in the Panhandle, 151 percent of normal.
Cattle producers are dealing with cold and muddy conditions that are impacting cattle across a wide swath of the country extending from the Southern Plains through the Midwest and Corn Belt. The combination of wet, cold and windy conditions causes significant cold stress for cattle and boosts nutritional requirements for cattle.
The winter weather side of this storm has brought significant snow totals across the West and Rocky Mountain regions and extended across the central and northern Plains. The arctic air dipped south and combined with southern moisture to produce large snowfall and blizzard conditions from New Mexico and western Texas, across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and western Oklahoma. The storm caused road closures and disrupted travel in eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle; with blowing snow and icing conditions making travel difficult and dangerous across western and central Oklahoma.
While the storm is mostly a cattle management issue for cows, it will impact animal productivity for stocker cattle and feedlots. The widespread feedlot impacts will likely affect cattle and beef markets in the coming weeks. Feedlots in the Southern Plains are being hit with adverse weather for the first time this winter; having enjoyed very mild conditions so far this fall. In contrast, feedlots in the Midwest and Corn Belt have already been dealing with muddy conditions and the current weather will aggravate those poor conditions, resulting in additional productivity losses. The poor animal performance and additional death loss are a direct economic loss for feedlots; while the broader beef market may reflect the impact of additional loss of beef tonnage as a result of lower carcass weights.
Breeding cows and heifers on wheat pasture
Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist
The uncertainty of the feeder calf and stocker cattle markets have made many acres of wheat pasture available for other uses. Producers with cow calf operations will be looking to wheat pasture this winter as much of the winter feed supply. Some producers may have questions about the utilization of wheat pasture for growing replacement heifers or cows before, during, and after the spring breeding season. Anecdotal reports of unsatisfactory breeding performance have surfaced when replacement heifers have been exposed to bulls or AI while grazing wheat forages. Therefore an Oklahoma State University study was conducted to compare reproductive performance of heifers grazing wheat pasture before, and during breeding, with heifers grazing wheat pasture until approximately 3 weeks before breeding.
In each of two years, 40 spring born Angus and Angus crossbred heifers were placed on wheat pasture in December and randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups in mid- March. Group one (Wheat Pasture; n=20) remained on wheat pasture (mean crude protein = 26.6 %) through estrus synchronization and fixed-time AI. Group two (Dry Lot; n=20) was placed in drylot and had free choice access to a corn-based growing ration (11.1% crude protein) through estrus synchronization and fixed time AI. The heifers were inseminated on about April 5 both years. Heifers were exposed to fertile bulls starting 10 days after fixed time AI for 45 more days. Fixed time AI conception was determined at 32 days after AI by ultrasonography.
The percentage of heifers cycling at the start of estrous synchronization was 75% and 55% for Wheat Pasture and Dry Lot, respectively. Weights of Dry Lot heifers were slightly heavier than Wheat Pasture heifers (897 vs. 867 pounds) at the time of AI but were similar at ultrasound (917 vs. 910 pounds). Conception rate to fixed time AI was similar for Wheat Pasture (54%) and Dry Lot (43%) and final pregnancy rate was similar for Wheat Pasture (98%) and Dry Lot (88%). Reproductive performance of heifers grazing wheat pasture during estrus synchronization and Fixed time AI was similar to heifers consuming a corn-based growing diet. Source: Bryant and co-workers. 2011. February issue. The Professional Animal Scientist.
Kansas State University looked at grazing wheat pasture, before and during breeding with first and second calf cows. They compared the fixed time AI and final pregnancy rates for cows on wheat with cows on native rangeland. Five years of data were summarized in the 2011 KSU Cattlemen’s Day Report. The AI pregnancy rates were 51.7% and 57.7% for wheat pasture and rangeland respectively. The final pregnancy rates after a natural breeding clean up breeding season were very similar at 94.4% and 95.9% respectively. They concluded: “This trial showed no evidence that the high protein diet of wheat pasture reduces pregnancy rate of beef cows. However, because timing of the breeding season remained constant, protein content of the diet may have moderated prior to breeding.” Source: Johnson, S.K. 2011 KSU Cattlemen’s Day Summary.
Spring Calving Herd
• Be sure that weaned heifer calves are on a feeding program which will enable them be at 65% of their mature weight before the start of the breeding season. Rations should be balanced to achieve gains sufficient to get heifers from their current weight to that “target” weight.
• Begin feeding the lowest quality forage to dry cows which are in good condition during early winter and save the best hay for calving time or for weaned calves.
• Divide the herd into groups for winter feeding -- -weaned heifer calves -first-calf heifers, second-calvers and thin mature cows -the remainder of the dry cows which are in good body condition -herd sires
Body condition is important, plan an adequate winter program for cows to be at least body condition score 5 (carrying enough flesh to cover the ribs) before the calving and breeding season. This will help them to breed early in the spring. Thin cows should be fed to regain body condition prior to winter. Don’t let cows lose weight/condition.
• Order and number eartags for next year’s calf crop this winter. It is also a good time to catch up on freeze branding and replacing lost eartags.
Fall Calving Herd
• Get breeding supplies together, if using estrous synchronization and/or A.I.
• Have Breeding Soundness Evaluation (BSE) performed on bulls (even if you used them this spring).
• The fall breeding season starts. Breeding can best be accomplished on stockpiled fescue pasture; otherwise, cows with calves should be fed 25-30 pounds of good quality hay or its equivalent. Supplement with grain, if needed, and minimize hay waste. Don't allow these cows to lose body condition.
• Observe performance of bulls during breeding season. Watch cows for return to estrus, if you see several in heat, try to determine the cause and consider changing bulls.
• Complete soil testing pasture to check for fertility and pH.
• Consider putting down geotextile fabric and covering with gravel in feeding areas before you begin hay feeding to minimize waste of expensive hay. Or, perhaps, construct concrete feeding pads for winter feeding areas.
Chipotle is having a disastrous end to 2015.
The chain restaurant has been forced to close all 43 stores locations in Oregon and Washington after an outbreak of customers getting sick with the suspected culprit being E. coli. According to The Daily Caller, so far 22 people have become sick, with 8 people being hospitalized. The problem started in August when nearly 80 people, including almost 20 staff members, came down with norovirus after eating at the restaurant in California. In September, about 60 people were sickened by salmonella in Minnesota restaurant locations.
But this isn’t even the first time that Chipotle has dealt with very serious food safety problems – in 2008 and 2009 hundreds of people were also sickened by eating at the restaurants in California.
First, let me just say that I do not use this story to brow beat Chipotle at the expense of those that fell ill. Food borne illnesses are a serious issue and no laughing matter, especially for those struck with it. I sincerely hope that all of those that have taken ill are quickly on the mend and regain full health.
But I can’t help but find all of this incredibly ironic.
Over the recent years, Chipotle, which is really nothing more than a self-obsessed fast food restaurant, has made it a point to herald itself as a place with better food. The company has led this charge with it’s campaign “Food with Integrity.” It started with Chipotle’s advertisement, “The Scarecrow,” which tried to impress upon viewers that today’s farmers are nothing more than big corporate entities attempting to make a buck by pumping our food full of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. Then, the chain launched its online mini-series aimed at mocking and slandering farmers.
Chipotle has derided GMOs, slandered conventional family farmers, criticized the way we care for our animals, accused of mistreating the environment, and a whole host of other vile and baseless accusations.
Here’s an idea Chipotle: try cleaning up your own house first.
You’ve engaged in a smear campaign against family farmers for years now. The truth is, the things you’ve rallied against to build your brand are things that no one needs to be worried about. Scientific consensus and loads of research have demonstrated that GMOs are just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. Conventionally produced food is just as nutritious as organically produced food, and just as safe for your family to consume. And all of the meat sold in our country is free from antibiotics.
But you’ve used these popular narratives to confuse consumers, create misleading headlines, and boost your own stock.
Perhaps all of that time and money spent on your nasty public relations campaign would have been better spent on the things that really matter – like improving your food safety protocols to make sure that people aren’t regularly getting sick at your restaurant. Instead of utilizing fear related to fake problems and concerns, you could be dealing with problems that really exist and really harm people, such as the ones making your customers sick right now.
US farmers should be proud of the product they create, the same can’t be said of Chipotle.
The entire beef community works every day to produce high-quality beef for Americans. So, where does it all begin? The beef lifecycle begins on a cow-calf operation; where farmers and ranchers maintain a herd of mama cows for breeding.
First, cows (mature female cattle) and bulls (intact adult male cattle) are bred to produce calves. During the 9-month gestation period, farmers and ranchers play close attention to mama cows to make sure there are no problems with the pregnancy.
If any issues arise, a farmer, rancher or veterinarian can step in to ensure the health and safety of the mama and baby.
Farmers and ranchers are there every step of the way
Cows receive assistance from farmers and ranchers, and often times a veterinarian, during the birthing process, which is also known as calving. When a calf is born, it weighs between 60-100 pounds depending on its parent’s genetics and how well the mama cow’s body performed nutritionally during gestation. A newborn calf will spend the first few months of life drinking its mother’s milk and grazing on vast grass pastures. Today, cattle are born and raised in almost every state around the country on farms and ranches such as Debbie Lyons-Blythe’s ranch in Kansas or in South Dakota at Jake and Carolyn Geis’ ranch.
Animal safety is a priority
It is important for farmers and ranchers to be able to identify their cattle for the safety and security of their herd. Some cattle farmers and ranchers may use ear tags, which identify the animal with a number tagged in their ear (sort of like an earring). Before beginning the weaning process, other calves may receive a custom brand either by hot iron or freeze branding, so they are easily identifiable from a distance. The branding process does not cause long-term harm or pain to cattle, and it prevents them from getting lost or stolen. Additionally, some ranchers in western states are required by law to brand their cattle.
Before four months of age, the testicles are often removed from male calves being raised for beef through a process called castration. Castration occurs because bulls display more aggressive behavior and can cause harm to other animals or farmers and ranchers, so removing the testicles improves overall safety for the animal and for the animal caretakers. Removal is quick, low-stress and the calf begins the healing process immediately.
Cattle with horns can cause injury to other cattle they encounter throughout their lifetime. For this reason, horns are removed from calves in a process called dehorning. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that cattle be dehorned at the earliest age possible.
For these procedures and more, education and tools are provided to cattle farmers and ranchers to ensure proper cattle care. Introduced in 1987, the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program was developed to ensure proper cattle care through every stage of the beef lifecycle.
The lifecycle continues
At 6-10 months of age, and approximately 500 pounds, calves are ready to begin weaning. Weaning is the process by which calves are moved away from their mothers in order to graze on grass pastures, where they eat grass and forages that are indigestible to humans. The weaning process allows calves to become independent of their mother’s milk so they may continue to grow and thrive on the pasture.
After weaning is complete, the beef lifecycle continues. Many calves are purchased at livestock auction markets by farmers and ranchers called stockers and backgrounders. However, some calves (about one in three female calves) are kept on the cow-calf operation as breeding animals or “mama cows to-be,” and the lifecycle begins again.
In every stage of the beef lifecycle , farmers and ranchers are dedicated to the health and safety of their animals at the cow-calf operation. Cow-calf operations are just the beginning of how the beef community comes together to bring beef from farm to fork.
Posted by: Macey Cleary
Auburn, Ala.—Get out your forks and steak knives. It’s time to cook the perfect steak.
You won’t get a perfect steak by just tossing a juicy steak onto a sizzling grill. There is a little bit of science behind what makes a delicious steak.
The most popular cuts to grill are the ribeye and the New York strip. The ribeye cut is known for its excellent marbling that gives it a juicy, rich flavor. The New York strip is a lean cut that is very flavorful.
When choosing a steak, you also need to look at the marbling.
Marbling refers to the fat found within a cut of meat and between the muscle fibers themselves. A high-quality steak will have a lot of marbling, while a lean cut will have very little or no visible marbling, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Marbling is partly responsible for tenderness, juiciness and flavor of the meat,” said Dr. Lisa Kriese-Anderson, an animal scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Steaks that are USDA choice or above can be cooked to medium or higher degrees of doneness without disrupting tenderness.”
The cut should be at least three-quarters of an inch thick, but for the perfect steak you should choose a cut of meat that is one to one and a half inches thick.
If you are unsure of which cut of meat to buy, you can ask the butcher at your local grocery store.
“Ask the butcher how many days the steak has been aged,” said Kriese-Anderson. “The longer the steak has been aged, the more tender the cut becomes because muscle fiber linkages begin to break down. The optimal aging time in 14 to 21 days.”
First, take your steaks out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. This should allow the temperature of the steak to rise to room temperature or approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Putting cold meat on a hot grill may cause it to become tougher than it should be, according to Kriese-Anderson.
When seasoning your meat, do not salt the meat. Salt will draw the juice to the surface of the meat and the juice will evaporate, eliminating some of the juiciness in the steak. You can season the meat with salt after you cook it.
There’s one last step before you put the steak on the grill. Make sure the grill is hot. The heat will sear the meat helping seal the juice inside the steak.
After the prep process, it’s time to toss your steak on the grill. Only flip the steak once. Wait until the meat reaches the halfway point of internal temperature and flip, then finish grilling to desired doneness.
USDA’s food safety guidelines recommend cooking steak to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
“Remember the steak will continue cooking after you take it off the grill,” said Kriese-Anderson. “The internal temperature will increase about five degrees after you remove it from the grill.”
When you take the steak off the grill, loosely cover it with aluminum foil for five minutes to let it rest. This will ensure your steak is juicy and delicious.
Myth: Big beef uses antibiotics without regard for animal welfare or human health.
Facts: Antibiotics are just one tool beef farmers and ranchers use to keep cattle healthy by treating and preventing the spread of illness. Cattle can pick up illnesses, just like humans, whether they’re out on pasture or in a feedlot with other animals. Cattlemen work closely with veterinarians to develop a comprehensive health program, which may include nutritious diet, proper housing, hygiene, vaccinations and antibiotics.
How are they used?
Who ensures antibiotics are not overused?
How are antibiotics given to cattle?
Are antibiotics safe?
What’s being done to improve antibiotic use?
For consumers who want beef raised without antibiotics, the beef community has listened and provides choices to meet those needs.
Learn more about judicious use of antibiotics and what farmers and ranchers do to keep animals and humans safe.
Recently, Panera (or St. Louis Bread Company), released a statement that by 2020 it will have transitioned all of its nearly 2,000 locations to cage-free eggs, and that it has been and will continue to fight against antibiotics in its animals. Panera also released that it would begin encouraging Americans to choose a diet with less or no animal products, utilizing like so many other companies the “health halo” advertising technique to trick consumers into buying their product because of the faulty belief that it is healthier than other options.
They ignore, however, the proven negative consequences of such plans and in turn put their customers at greater risk, lower the quality of life for the animals they obtain products from, and disregard the negative health factors of a plant-based diet.
The Fight Against Cages
With all of its locations accounted for, Panera used about 120 million eggs per year. It also uses large amounts of beef, pork, and chicken.
Following in the footsteps of other large chain restaurants like Chipotle, McDonalds, and Starbucks, Panera has identified what we call the “Health Halo” as a way to increase sales in the coming years.
The idea is that people will buy what they think is healthy for them, which makes sense. So, the companies have identified several myths that are spread by animal rights and vegan activist groups and used those to advance their business interests through targeting conventional animal agriculture. They claim to sell healthier and more morally sound food than their competitors, and the myths surrounding conventional agriculture make people believe them.
One of the largest pillars of these myths, cage-free eggs, was even further disseminated with Proposition 2 in California, which banned cage production of eggs in the state. The problem with cage-free systems, as we have brought up in many other articles, is that they are actually worse for the welfare of the animals and their production.
The reason that the modern production systems revolve around cages 95% of the time is that they are better for the animals; they reduce the risk of predator attack, cannibalism, self-mutilation, disease, and parasites. By eliminating these cages, HSUS and these companies are just lowering the quality of life for the animals, increasing their mortality rate, and reducing the production of eggs.
Why would they do this? Because they don’t care about the negative effects, just if public opinion of their decisions will bring in more business or donations for the radical special interest groups.
The Health Halo Turned Horns
Panera doesn’t stop at eggs though; it also has moved to eliminate the use of antibiotics in the animals that it gets its products from – which could have countless negative health ramifications for their customers.
Animal antibiotics are important to keep our food supply safe and people healthier, which is why antibiotics have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for over 40 years. The supposed antibiotic resistance arguments has been addressed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA, Department of Agriculture, the veterinary community, animal health companies and farmers, and an exhaustive process is in place to protect human health.
These measures have been successful in decreasing the possibility of foodborne illness being transmitted, and a risk analysis shows that if we decrease the use of antibiotics then foodborne illnesses will inevitably increase. Just look at Denmark’s ban on antibiotics for growth or health maintenance in animals, it resulted in astoundingly increased rates of animal death and disease.
Regarding their ‘encouragement’ for Americans to move away from animal-based diets and the list of protein supplying plants they will be using: they ignore the difference in protein efficiency, and make false claims that you can live a full and healthy life on a plant-based diet.
Looking at a list of products by protein efficiency released by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates it clearly shows that eggs, milk, fish, and beef are all above their protein-providing plant-based counterparts. It’s a simple fact; you cannot get the same value from non-animal based foods consumed.
On top of that, leaving meat out of a diet strips a person of very important vitamins and minerals that deal with a person’s development and function; for an in-depth look you can read our article “The Scientific Response to Radical Veganism.”
It has been proven, beyond a doubt, animals are less well-off when taken away from modern forms of agricultural production, people are at a greater risk, and human health suffers without animal agriculture.
But these companies and organizations don’t care about any of that, only selling their products and soliciting donations. The Health Halo is a huge problem for the American people; it gives companies another way to manipulate them and put business ahead of human interests.
I am Janeal Yancey. I have a Ph.D. in meat science, but I am also just a Mom trying to raise two crazy little girls. I hope that can help other moms feel more knowlegable about the meat they feed their families
What's in a food label?
Raised without hormones
I’ve been writing a series of posts about food labeling. My previous posts have been about labels that involve the whole system of raising animals, like Organic, Naturally-raised or Grass-fed. Some labels are more specific and address one particular one billionth of a gram. That 8 oz steak is a little over 226 grams. technology used for raising animals like hormones or antibiotics. Today I’m going to address the labels concerning hormones in meat.
First let me address “Hormone Free”
A big joke in the livestock industry is when we see a food, especially meat milk or eggs, advertised as “Hormone Free.”
All animals have hormones and need them to grow and produce meat, milk, eggs, babies, or whatever. All food has hormones. Nothing can actually be ‘hormone-free.’ Saying that beef is “hormone free” is about as pointless as talking about a boneless chicken ranch (you know, all the chickens just lay there!)
But, we all know that they really mean that the animals were raised without the use of added hormones.
Technically, you cannot label a meat product as hormone free. You see it on signs and menus, but it shouldn’t be on a label.
You CAN label a meat product as “Raised without hormones” to let the consumer know that no extra hormones were administered to the animal. Now, that means different things depending on which species the label is on.
In beef, it is legal to administer hormones to the cattle. They are similar to the hormones the cattle produce naturally and they allow them to grow larger, leaner, and more efficiently. They help the cattle grow more beef using fewer natural resources.
These hormones are actually administered in what we call an ‘Implant’ in their ear, not usually fed to them. There are several different options available, and they are usually applied in the feedlot or finishing phase of the animal’s life (the last few months) before harvest. Just like anything given to the cattle, the FDA and USDA have rules and regulations that the farmers must follow concerning the implants. These rules will involve how long they can be administered and how long before harvest.
Back to the label. When the implants are not used, the beef company may say so on the label.
Big Island Beef was really popular in Hawaii
Very often the ‘raised without the use of hormones’ label will accompany another claim like Natural, Grass-fed, or Organic.
How much does it really matter?
When beef raised without hormones was compared to that from cattle that was given hormones, the level of hormones in the beef was slightly different. In an 8-oz steak, the amount of estrogen found in steak from the implanted steer was 5.1 nanograms and that found in a non-implanted calf was 3.5 nanograms.
... that beef consumption contributes less than 5 percent of total calories in the American diet? About half the fatty acids found in beef are monounsaturated fatty acids, the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil.
Beef consumption contributes less cholesterol to Americans’ diets (11 percent) compared to chicken (12 percent) and eggs (25 percent), according to the Dietary Guidelines. Learn more here!
New research adds to the body of evidence that beef production fits into the definition of sustainability.
When I was a kid, a young couple moved in down the road. Returning to nature they were, and they brought some ideas with them that seemed awfully misguided to me. “Don’t you know cows are destroying the planet?” said the young woman in her best accusatory tone.
I didn’t know it then and I still don’t know it, because they weren’t and they aren’t, at least when properly managed. Now, some research from Texas A&M AgriLife adds to that body of evidence.
This research is unique. It’s the first attempt to apply a net emission lifecycle analysis to the question of whether or not cow-calf production on perennial pastures is a major contributor to global warming by producing methane. The beef business first learned about lifecycle analysis when NCBA released the results of its sustainability work several years ago. That effort showed that beef producers have become more efficient over the years and that beef production is indeed a sustainable activity.
Like many of you, I am skeptical of the global warming debate. I don’t doubt that the data show our climate is changing. But blaming it on humans is intellectually dishonest. Likewise, I think many of those espousing “sustainability” don’t really know what that means.
But here’s the thing: many of our consumers think they do know what sustainability means, even if they understand it only at a superficial level. And that means, just like my conversation with our new neighbors those many years ago, we’d better be prepared with the truth, as defined by legitimate science rather than hyperbole, to defend our livelihood.
That’s where the Texas A&M research fits in. “Contrary to other publications claiming cow-calf farms are the most significant GHG (greenhouse gas) emission source in the beef production link, our results show that cow-calf farms converting to multi-paddock grazing in the Southern Great Plains region are likely carbon sinks,” said Seong Park with Texas AgriLife Research in Vernon, Texas, one of the scientists on the project.
This occurs because, compared with continuous grazing, adaptive multi-paddock grazing produces a higher-quality grass that results in more carbon sequestration in the soil and reduces methane production in the cattle, the researchers found.
The researchers define adaptive multi-paddock grazing management as grazing one paddock, or pasture, at a time while other pastures rest and recover. “This grazing strategy uses short periods of grazing, long recovery periods, and adaptively changing recovery periods and other management elements as conditions change,” says Richard Teague, another Vernon-based researcher on the project.
What’s more, the research found that multi-paddock grazing can lead to improved water infiltration and soil health, which could lead to increased forage and livestock production.
The researchers compared this rotational grazing strategy with a lightly-stocked continuous grazing program and a traditionally-stocked continuous grazing management strategy. And they point out that the results only apply to the Southern Plains, as management practices in different regions will vary based on different stocking rates, cow size, calving season, forage types and fertilizer use.
Nonetheless, it’s likely that the multi-paddock grazing strategy defined in this research, when applied in other regions and other management systems, will result in not only better forage and soil health, but in also making those pastures a carbon sink—returning more carbon to the soil than is produced.
That’s both economically and environmentally sustainable.
So, are ruminants going to destroy the planet with all the methane they produce?
No. And we need to tell that story every chance we get.
Accusations have been flying, people are panicking, and radical animal rights groups have been in a state of euphoria ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) released a misleading statement that claimed red and processed meats cause cancer.
Since then the organization has backtracked and released more specific information about their meta-analysis, but not before causing a panic all across the nation. The best description of the organization’s misstep is plainly: “irresponsible.”
So let’s talk facts, clear the air and resolve the issue that WHO has brought to the table.
First and foremost, the claim as interpreted by animal rights groups and the liberal, fear mongering, media: Processed and red meats are now proven to be a significant cause of cancer.
This is absolutely false.
What WHO actually said in their original statement: Red meat has been classified as, after a study by 22 experts, ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ based on ‘limited evidence’ and processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence that processed meat causes colorectal cancer. HOWEVER, later on in the statement Dr. Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Program said, “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small.”
What it means
At first it is pretty difficult to wade through the actual meaning of what WHO released, especially with all of the negative rhetoric against the animal agriculture industry. So we are going to break down their study step-by-step and evaluate what it means for you as an individual.
Let’s define what they are attacking: 1) red meat, and 2) processed meat. Red meat is considered to be all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat. Processed meat has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation.
So, no, WHO didn’t just accuse bacon and hot dogs of causing cancer, but almost all forms of edible meat. And their most egregious claims were made against mainly food that has been preserved for long term use. Keep in mind, we have been salting, curing, and smoking meat for preservation for literally thousands of years.
Yet, the phrasing of their accusations was more combative than the evidence could ever support. Red meat was classified as Group 2A, for “probable carcinogens.” Due to the sheer difficulty of isolating all possible variables in a scientific study over the complex issue of cancer, the scientists could not prove carcinogenic causation for the consumption of red meat.
They instead believe that a small amount of “limited evidence” shows a correlation of colorectal cancer to red meat consumption. It is that correlation that has let to their statement that red meat is “probably carcinogenic.”
However, in the statement they freely admit that this classification in no way shows the strength of meat consumption on cancer or a positive relationship of causation.
As for processed meat, it was classified in Group 1; “carcinogenic to humans,” based on ‘sufficient evidence.’ Also in this group are smoking tobacco and asbestos, a fact that has contributed to the media chaos.
What people fail to realize though (a point that is later iterated in a Q & A with WHO) is that, like with red meat, in no way does this mean the strength of the carcinogenic effects are equal. The group classifications are decided only by the strength of the evidence against the thing that is accused of being carcinogenic, not the difference in absolute risk. Clear as mud, right?
How this affects YOU
When you continue reading the original statement, a peek into an estimate of actual carcinogenic effects is mentioned; they claim that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
This is known as relative risk because it doesn’t address the actual risk for the individual, just how much greater their risk is than someone else. Due to the progressivity of percentage analysis this can be highly misleading when talking about extremely smaller numbers.
18% sounds like a lot, right? Sure… that is, until you look at how low the possibility of conducting colorectal cancer actually is. The national average is approximately 1.8% without any connection of it to your bloodline historically.
Therefore, to find the difference in cancer vulnerability you have to adjust the average to the percentage of people in America who are vegan, and those who eat meat. Without boring you too much and getting into the nitty-gritty of statistical analysis that will mean dusting off your old algebra books, try to follow along.
If 98% of our population eats meat and 2% are vegan vegetarian, then the combination of X (likeliness for a meat eater to get colorectal cancer) and Y (the likeliness for a non-meat eater to get cancer) multiplied by .98 and .02 respectively should equal together the .018 possibility of getting the cancer. In math terms that’s: X(.98)*Y(.02)= .018. Now, since X is 18% more likely to get the cancer than Y, X=Y(1.18). Agreed?
The actual percentages then come out to approximately 1.805% chance of getting the cancer for a meat eater (X) and 1.530% chance for non-meat eaters (Y). So yes, the relative risk is about 18% higher, but in actual risk you are looking at a .275% difference. Meat eaters are less than half of a percentage point more likely to get colorectal cancer than non meat eaters! Doesn’t sound so scary now does it?
This statistic is absolutely miniscule, and although they didn’t release it with their statement WHO and IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) knew its insignificant effect. Director of IARC, Dr. Christopher Wild, even said:
”These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat. At the same time, red meat has nutritional value. Therefore, these results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations.”
But why address this at all? This situation oddly reminds us of a statistic released not too long ago that proved children who received multiple CT scans are three times more likely to get leukemia or brain cancer as some point.
That’s a 33.3% increased relative risk over other children, but as was pointed out then (like we are doing for this situation) the actual risk of that child getting such cancer is so small that even the relatively large increased relative risk would amount to virtually no increase in actual cancer statistics. Thus they never stopped giving children-in-need CT scans, and for good reason.
Basically, Group 1 classification and 18% increase in cancer sounds bad, but it has almost NO REAL EFFECTS. Which is the largest reason why the press release was irresponsible and that they have spent the last week backtracking.
Their following press releases and Q & A pages are filled with phrases like: “but the evidence is not conclusive,” “has not yet been established as a cause of cancer” and “eating meat has known health benefits” in an attempt to stop the panic that they and the media inadvertently caused.
They are scientists; they recognize the positive effects of meat, many of which we pointed out in our article earlier this year “The Scientific Response to Radical Veganism.” They know that if you do a cost benefit analysis than the amazing benefits of meat consumption overwhelmingly outweigh the risk.
Each year there is more and more evidence proving meat consumption’s mental, physical, and emotional health benefits. Meat has particular vitamins, minerals, and protein that cannot be effectively provided by plants or supplements. Meat is just healthier!
So yes, technically there is evidence showing that meat may cause an increased relative rate in certain types of cancer, but the actual risk difference comes nowhere near enough to outweigh the positive effects of meat.
Do you think it is worth it to risk anemia, impaired cognitive functions, symptoms of mental disorders, a smaller brain, depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and many other disease caused by lack of meat to reduce the chance of cancer by .275%?
PSA: The LATimes did a similar absolute risk evaluation based on a 5% average risk (not filtering out preexisting conditions or increased risk through bloodline) and failed to adjust the outcome based on the 2% of our society that doesn’t eat meat factoring into the average, but even with the larger numbers the absolute risk increase was less than one percent.
Science does not support international agency opinion on red meat and cancer
By Facts About Beef
An international committee assigned to review all of the available evidence on red meat and cancer risk were divided on their opinion whether to label red meat a “probable” cause of cancer, according to the Beef Checkoff nutrition scientist and registered dietitian who observed the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) process. After seven days of deliberation in Lyon, France, IARC was unable to reach a consensus agreement from a group of 22 experts in the field of cancer research, something that IARC has proudly highlighted they strive for and typically achieve. In this case, they had to settle for “majority” agreement.
“Cancer is a complex disease that even the best and brightest minds don’t fully understand,” says Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD. “Billions of dollars have been spent on studies all over the world and no single food has ever been proven to cause or cure cancer. The opinion by the IARC committee to list red meat as a probable carcinogen does not change that fact. The available scientific evidence simply does not support a causal relationship between red or processed meat and any type of cancer.”
Most scientists agree that it is unrealistic to isolate a single food as a cause of cancer from a complex dietary pattern further confounded by lifestyle and environmental factors.
“As a registered dietitian and mother, my advice hasn’t changed. To improve all aspects of your health, eat a balanced diet, which includes lean meats like beef, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and, please don’t smoke,” says McNeill.
While IARC represents a select group of opinions, it doesn’t always represent consensus in the scientific community.
A large meta-analysis, published online in May in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, analyzed the relationship between red meat intake and risk for colorectal cancer and concluded “red meat does not appear to be an independent predictor of CRC risk,” according to Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH, the epidemiologist who conducted the research on behalf of the Beef Checkoff.
“There are a constellation of factors that are associated with the probability of getting cancer, which include age, genetics, socioeconomic characteristics, obesity, lack of physical activity, where you grew up, alcohol consumption, smoking and even your profession,” says Alexander. “The bottom line is the epidemiologic science on red meat consumption and cancer is best described as weak associations and an evidence base that has weakened over time. And most importantly, because red meat is consumed in the context of hundreds of other foods and is correlated with other behavioral factors, it is not valid to conclude red meat is an independent cause of cancer.”
According to Alexander, studies in nutritional epidemiology can be highly prone to bias such as self-reported dietary intake, for which habits may change over time. Because of this, associations reported in nutritional epidemiology may be surrounded by uncertainty. For instance, most, if not all, of the observational studies with red meat are limited by confounding factors; for example, studies have shown that people who consume the most red meat are the most likely to smoke, eat fewer fruits and vegetables and be overweight or obese – all of which may confound the relationship between eating red meat and risk of cancer.
Also, more recent studies in large cohorts are now finding either no association or non-significant findings between red meat and cancer. For example, a recent study out of Harvard using the well known The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and The Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) found unprocessed meat intake had an inverse association with distal colon cancer and a weak, statistically non-significant, positive association with risk of proximal colon cancer.
In addition, gold standard nutrition evidence, such as the Women’s Health Initiative and the Polyp Prevention Trial, two large, multi-year randomized controlled dietary interventions, found that a 20 percent reduction in red meat consumption did not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and/or had no effect on adenoma recurrence in the large bowel. These studies were disregarded from the IARC review.
“Given the weak associations in human studies and lack of evidence in animal studies it is hard to reconcile the committee’s vote,” says nutritional toxicologist James Coughlin, PhD, CFS. “Of more than 900 items IARC has reviewed, including coffee, sunlight and night shift work, they have found only one ‘probably’ does not cause cancer according to their classification system.”
Coughlin, a toxicologist with more than 40 years of experience in meat and cancer, is critical of the IARC review process due to the lack of transparency, selective inclusion or exclusion of studies and broad interpretation of study results that are inconsistent with the conclusions of the study authors.
“In my experience as an observer to an IARC working group, the process typically involves scientists who have previously published research on the substance being reviewed and may have a vested interest in defending their own research” says Coughlin. “In the case of red and processed meat, the overall scientific evidence simply does not support their conclusion.”
I think that everyone probably thinks they have the best mom in the world, but I definitely do. My mom is a woman of many interests: art, music, cold-brewed coffee and football, just to name a few. Like most moms in America, she has always taken a particular interest in the food that her kids eat. When my mom was helping me move into my temporary place for the semester, she took me to the grocery store and made sure that I had healthy options easily available. Recently, she’s been encouraging me to really take notice of what is in the food I eat – and to always read the label.
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, I did not grow up on a farm. Before interning with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, I would consider myself a typical consumer. As a consumer, when I see labels like “Raised without Antibiotics” on a package of chicken in the grocery store, it seems natural for me to assume that the chicken without that label may contain antibiotic residues that could be harmful to me and the people with which I share my food. Throughout my time with the Alliance, though, I have learned a lot about antibiotics and their role in animal agriculture.
Consumers are concerned about the possibility of antibiotic residues in their meat, and it’s easy to understand why. The worry is that if humans consume antibiotic residues through the meat they eat, they may build a resistance to those antibiotics. Then next time they got sick, it would prevent the antibiotics they needed from properly treating the illness. This is a real concern, but luckily the FDA and the USDA have been working diligently to prevent antibiotic residues from ever entering the market. After an animal has been treated with antibiotics, the FDA mandates that producers must wait for the drug to completely leave the animal’s system before processing them. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service then tests meat, poultry, milk, and eggs for trace amounts of any drugs present in products before they ever reach the market. It’s also important to note that there is very little overlap between antibiotics that are used in humans and antibiotics that are used in animal agriculture. Meat Mythcrushers has a great article about antibiotic overlap.
Antibiotics for growth promotion are being phased out.
One thing that even I can admit to thinking as a consumer is, “Sure, sick animals need treated. I get that. But I’ve heard that animal farmers will give antibiotics to their animals just to bulk them up, and that seems dangerous and irresponsible to me.” Well, rest assured! In 2013, the FDA requested meat producers to phase out antibiotics for growth promotion by 2016 – and the industry supported the FDA’s decision.
Even animals that are given the best care possible could still get sick.
Another claim that I’ve heard is that if farmers were taking proper care of their animals, they wouldn’t even need antibiotics in the first place. I wish that were true, but unfortunately animals just get sick sometimes even if they have received the best care possible, which farmers work hard to provide. The North American Meat Association has a resource that really helped me understand this better. We take care of ourselves, but we still get sick and require antibiotics from time to time. Our pets do, too – and I know that many of us treat our pets as members of the family. The use of antibiotics in animal agriculture isn’t a sign of mistreatment; it’s actually a sign that farmers are paying attention to their animals’ well-being and giving them the medicine that they need to get better.
That said, there are farmers and food companies who have committed to raising animals without the use of any antibiotics. You may have heard “no antibiotics ever” or “raised without antibiotics” as ways to describe this production method. These farmers are just as committed to ensuring animal health. They will avoid the use of antibiotics as much as possible, but as I mentioned above sometimes animals will need treatment. If an animal requires an antibiotic to get better, it will receive the treatment it needs, and then be separated from the “no antibiotics ever” herd or flock and marketed through a different channel. Having different options helps farmers choose what works best for them, their animals and their farms, and benefits the consumer by offering a choice in the grocery store.
Ask questions – and find answers.
To be totally honest, I’m not sure that if I hadn’t accepted my internship with the Animal Agriculture Alliance I would have ever researched or looked into the concerns that I had heard about the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. It was very easy to accept the things that were buzzing around without a second thought. So, some advice from a fellow consumer: do your own research and make up your own mind before accepting what you’ve heard online or through word of mouth as truth. And to all the moms out there (including mine), antibiotics in meat are one thing that you can take off of your plate!
Antibiotic use in animals has again made headlines as another national restaurant chain, Subway, announces plans to move to serving only antibiotic-free animal products.
The change was the result of pressure from outside lobbyist organizations with a mission to discontinue the use of all antibiotics in animals.
What’s disappointing is the restaurant chain’s lack of attention to facts, science and the people who actually raise the animals. Fear and misinformation again won, leaving farm animals as the ultimate victims.
My husband and I raise Angus cattle on our fourth-generation family farm in Central Kansas. We believe in the humane treatment of all of our animals and therefore use antibiotics in our animals on an as-needed basis to cure an illness and help the animal return to full health.
Antibiotics are not our first line of defense against sickness in our animals but they do allow us a resource to help the animal overcome illness, fatigue and stress.
Without the ability to use antibiotics, we would be forced to watch innocent animals die from basic, treatable conditions.
We keep records of all uses of antibiotics to ensure the withdraw period has passed before the animal enters the food system. However, most of our animals remain on our farm long after the antibiotics are administered.
What most consumers don’t realize is that all beef sold in grocery stores and used in restaurants is antibiotic free and tested, by the USDA, for antibiotic residue before leaving the processing plant.
The standards are strict and farmers and ranchers do everything they can to ensure the beef enjoyed by consumers is healthy and safe.
Everything we do is to protect and support the health and welfare of our animals. We don't want to have to doctor sick animals so we do everything we can to ensure their health and well being. But when we do find one of our animals is not feeling well, it is our duty to return them to health. That's part of being good stewards of our animals and your food.
Dr. Cory Haglund on Subway, INC.
Today, with solemn remorse, I have no choice but to turn myself in to Subway INC. Yesterday, I learned Subway has deemed it inhumane to administer an antibiotic... treatment to sick livestock. Luckily I've always depended on corporate press releases for the latest in medical breakthroughs, and what more reputable company to use as a moral compass then Subway, the organization that turned a blind eye for years on their national spokesman's ongoing child abuse.
Armed with the new found revelation that hundreds of cattle have needlessly regained health thanks to my inhumane antibiotic intervention, I disregarded everything I had been taught in a years worth of pharmacology lectures and entered the brave new world of antibiotic free livestock. But it was not to last.
Not one hour after my new outlook began, I was presented with a sick calf. I watched helplessly as the poor guy, weakened and depressed, coated the inside of his trailer with diarrhea while he contemplated a trip to the great sand hill pasture in the sky. I couldn't bare to watch the scene unfolding in front of me, so I did the unthinkable. I gave him an antibiotic. I knew it's not what Subway wanted, but it worked so well on these coccidiosis calves in the past, I just couldn't kick the habit. So I gave him a dose, added some fluid support as well and we monitored him through the evening.
The next morning, as if by magic (had to of been magic, not sure what else it would of been), he was improving. He was getting up easier, he nursed a bottle, and was wanting to be more active. We gave him a little more fluid and sent him back home to mama cow.
I know Subway would of prefered I leave the calf to die on its own, or have the owner take it out back and shoot it, but in all my cruel inhumanity, I went a different route. Perhaps, it turns out, a bunch of suits sitting in an ad agency aren't cut out for setting animal welfare standards. But they've laid down their beliefs, and if they think they are in the right, then prove it. There are laws in this state protecting animals against cruelty. I have 8 years and a couple hundred grand invested in the veterinary license sitting in my clinic. Here's the evidence you need to come and get it.
Many consumers have become misled and misinformed about the presence of antibiotics in their beef. Some restaurants and grocery stores have begun advertising antibiotic-free meat, which is like promoting sugar-free water. All beef is antibiotic-free and all water is bottled without the added sweet stuff. No catchy labels and no gimmicks needed.
Antibiotics allow farmers and ranchers to help their animals recover from common illnesses, return to the herd and continue to live a happy, healthy life.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that all beef processed for consumption must be free of antibiotics. The government agency has inspectors in processing plants across the country, testing beef samples for any trace of antibiotics or antibiotic residue. If any level is detected, the entire animal is discarded completely. It’s a rigid and straightforward process that ensures consumers always receive antibiotic-free beef products.
While the USDA provides formal inspections and regulations, keeping antibiotics out of the food supply starts with the livestock owner. On our farm in Central Kansas, we have a small number of animals every year that suffer from pneumonia, which often results from stress or changing weather, or a blood disorder, spread by flies found in grazing pastures. We use antibiotics to help our sick animals recover and keep diligent records to ensure those animals remain out of the herd and the food supply until the antibiotics are out of their system.
All antibiotics used on farm animals are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and come with strict guidelines on usage, dosage and withdrawal periods.
These withdrawal periods tell the farmer how long it takes for the drug to move through the animal’s system and ultimately leave the body all together. The withdrawal periods vary for each drug but most range from 14 to 20 days. HERE is a list of withdrawal periods for antibiotics commonly used in cattle.
It isn’t until that withdrawal period has elapsed that any animal treated with antibiotics can return to the herd or be processed for consumption. Through diligent record keeping, livestock owners know the exact dates each animal was treated and the doses administered.
Livestock owners understand the implications of antibiotic resistance in both people and animals and are working to be part of the solution. We value our role in providing a safe and healthy food product and understand the importance of keeping antibiotics out of the food supply to ensure all beef is ALWAYS antibiotic-free.
We doctored a few cattle this morning that were sick. Yes, we used antibiotics to treat the sickness! A typical dose of antibiotics for one animal is 5-10 ml. T...his 500 ml bottle of Draxxin (one of the antibiotics we sometimes use) costs almost $2,000. That's right, $2,000! (You don't want to drop the bottle!) There is a lot misinformation out there that states that farmers "pump their animals full of antibiotics." That is simply not true. It would never make sense for any farmer (even so-called "factory farmers") to overuse antibiotics, they are too expensive!
In most cases antibiotics are used only when needed to revive a sick animal. If they are not given, there is a significant chance the animal will die. If antibiotics are ever given, there is a strict withdrawal time that must be observed before slaughter. Which means there are never antibiotics in your meat! So, when restaurants like Subway promote that they are going to have "antibiotic free meat" it is very misleading. Not only because all meat is antibiotic free, but also because antibiotics are an important tool farmers and ranchers use in small doses to keep their animals healthy. Yes, many small operations (less than 50 head) can get away without using antibiotics if they are lucky, and that is perfectly okay, but that just isn't an option for large scale farms.
Consumer choice is a good thing, a variety of products is a good thing, a variety of production methods is a good thing, and the free market system is a good thing. But false, misleading advertising is not! We shouldn't demonize farm operations who are simply doing their best to make the right decisions to raise healthy animals.
The debate around antibiotic use in farm animals and livestock has again reared its ugly head. People who have never raised poultry, cattle or pigs are demanding farmers and ranchers give up the use of antibiotics, all the while insisting on humane treatment for all living things.
On our farm, treating sick animals is the most humane thing we can do. Ending our ability to use antibiotics is essentially forcing us to walk away from animals that would have otherwise made a full recovery.
It is our belief that with the responsibility of raising animals comes the duty to protect and care for them in times of sickness and injury. We take many steps to prevent illness in our herd but given the always-changing Kansas weather, illness spread by flies and stress that comes from weaning or moving from the farm to the pasture, we know that a few of our animals will become ill. Most will suffer from pneumonia or a blood disease, both of which are easily curable with antibiotics.
We treat about 20 percent of our herd each year for some type of illness, mostly the two conditions mentioned above. Of those, at least 75 percent, or more, would die if we did not step in and administer a dose of antibiotics.
That is unacceptable on our farm and an inhumane way to treat our animals.
People who advocate against the use of antibiotics don’t have the animal in mind, because when ranchers lose their ability to help their animals, it’s the animals that suffer in the end.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Joan Ruskamp. Joan and her family farm and feed cattle near Dodge, Nebraska. Joan also is a Common Ground volunteer spending time talking with consumers about agriculture issues and their food concerns.
One of the concerns she hears from consumers is that their meat is full of hormones. While all food contains hormones of some type, she found that explaining the differing levels using scientific terms, like nanograms, only caused greater confusion. So, Joan came up with a great visual aid that any American can relate to – M&Ms.
As you can see in the photo, Joan carefully measured each pint jar of M&M’s so they represent the amount of nanograms found in different kinds of food and in the human body naturally in comparison to the amount found in beef.
In the pint jar furthest to the right, is a sixth of an M&M. This sliver of an M&M represents the amount of hormones found in a 3 oz serving of beef which have received an implant.
In the two middle pint jars, are the amount of hormones found in 3 oz serving of potatoes with about 20 M&Ms and a jar showing the hormones in peas containing a few more M&Ms.
The pint jar on the left end, which is full of M&Ms, showcases the amount found in a 3 oz serving of cabbage.
“When consumers compare the amount of hormones in nanograms and see that beef contains a very small portion – it becomes a non-issue for them,” said Ruskamp. “Then when they learn that in a man or women’s body normally there are 13 pints of M&Ms worth of hormones naturally in their body. And in a woman who is able to have children, her body naturally contains 178 pints of M&Ms or about 23 gallons worth…
…It becomes an issue that they can now relate to and understand the quantity to see how insignificant the amount in beef is, and they accept that fact that hormones are naturally occurring, thus not an issue for me and how I purchase my meat.”
Get answers to some of your hormone questions here from Common Ground –
Should I be concerned about hormones in meat?
Why are hormones given to livestock?
-– Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter raised up on a cow/calf and grain farm.
A recent CNN article made a splash when it suggested it would be better for the environment for Americans to switch out beef for more chicken or pork. The columnist reason for this was because cattle burp methane, a greenhouse gas, as part of their digestion process, as well as eat corn, which requires conventional farming techniques. While I commend the columnist for actually visiting cattle country before writing, I would like to offer a perspective on why this idea stinks.
And if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will probably guess how it fares against the “smell test”.
Consider the state of South Dakota (also known as the “Motherland” to my wife). It covers just over 77,000 miles of land that produces a lot of corn and a lot of cattle. While there are a host of other agricultural products made here (sunflowers, alfalfa, turkey and oats to name a few) corn and cattle are the most prevalent.
The rationale for this is because these products make the most efficient use of the resources we have in our state. By most efficient, I don’t just mean economically, I mean environmentally as well. Why? Our climate dictates that only certain thing do well here. For example, vegetables are a poor crop choice for most of the state. Yes, my wife’s garden looks phenomenal, but only because she uses a few thousand gallons of water on it each year. If we tried to raise water-intensive crops out here like that on a statewide scale, we’d make California look damp in no time.
Our climate lends itself best to growing grasses. Corn happens to be the most efficient grass (yes, corn is a grass). It creates the most energy for the amount of inputs that go into creating it. However, corn is not the best use of all the land in the state. Although farmers are quickly moving towards no-till farming, soil erosion is still an issue on some land. In addition, parts of South Dakota are too dry to raise corn.
That’s where grazing comes in. By putting cattle on land that is unsuitable for crops, we can use it to make a nutrient-dense food source. And, if we want the best of both worlds (which we always do in agriculture), we can graze cattle for most of their lives and feed them corn for the last few months so they reach slaughter size more efficiently (meaning, same size but using fewer resources).
Now, here’s where the issue comes in with the CNN column. People in agriculture have been working diligently to allocate our resources to be the most efficient we can be. Blindly changing this balance will end up being WORSE for our environment, not better.
For example, let’s say we cut out beef production in favor of pork and chicken (Now mind you, I find the other two meats delicious and fully support raising them). We have now completely eliminated the value that grazing land has. Remember the landowner still has to earn a living and pay taxes on the land he or she owns. So if it is worthless as grazing land, that landowner will need to find a new way to use that land to create income. Since pigs and chickens subsist on almost entirely corn and soybeans, that means the land that used to be a biodiverse, carbon capturing, soil erosion proof pasture will have to be plowed up and converted to farm ground to create chicken food instead of cow food. How does this help the environment?
To counter this, a person may think “Can’t the farmer raise something else?”. Well, what else is there? We can’t grow vegetables because of water issues; we can’t grow fruits because of water and the fact it is winter here for four to six months each year. There is limited demand for small grains like barley and oats, and therefore no profit if all 77,000 square miles of South Dakota were converted to farm them. Other grazing animals such as sheep are ruminants like cattle, so the “advantage” is lost there too. And there isn’t enough people willing to pay to see the state as one giant wildlife park (which means it would be covered in bison, deer and elk, which are also all ruminants).
Basically, if you want grazing land that promotes native flora and fauna, as well as captures carbon, you have to graze cattle. And, since it creates less greenhouse gas emissions for cattle to spend the last few months of their lives being fed corn instead of grazing, you need the corn. Is this system perfect? Absolutely not, but that is why we are constantly looking for ways to use less resources to create the food that feeds your family.
Flashy headlines saying “beef is bad” sell newspapers and TV ads, but do nothing to solve problems. I hate to do too much finger pointing, but why does my ’97 Chevy get nearly the same gas milage a brand-new pickup of the same class? Maybe we should look at the #1 source of greenhouse gas emissions to for answers before we mess with a system that works for farmers, native plant and wildlife, and the environment.
“Restaurant report card grades on antibiotics in meat supply”
If you’ve been on social media or any news website over the past couple days, chances are you’ve seen the above headline, or something darn near close to it. Along with the headline above, CNN’s version of the story highlights include: “New report examines antibiotics in meat supply at 25 U.S. chain restaurants.”
The problem is that’s not really what the report reviewed.
The report, which was released by Friends of the Earth (yes, the same environmental activist group that attacked me in their last report) and the Natural Resources Defense Council, actually reviewed the use of antibiotics in the production chain of “fast casual” restaurants. The report reviewed various chain restaurants and determined which chains monitor and regulate the use of antibiotics in production and which ones do not. The problem, however, is that this has nothing to do with antibiotic residue being found in your meat, as the headlines suggest. Nothing.
The biggest media mistake here is the confusing and misleading headlines suggesting that there are antibiotic residues present in our meat supply. This is simply false.
While it is true that farmers use antibiotics in animal production, this does not translate to consumers eating those antibiotics when they eat meat. In fact, it should come as no surprise that there are specific government regulations which ensure that there are no antibiotic residues in your meat. Antibiotics are only allowed for use in animal agriculture after undergoing a lengthy and thorough review process by the FDA, which focuses on human health.
Animal producers are required to keep records regarding which animals have been treated with antibiotics, which antibiotics have been given, and what dose of the antibiotic was given. Before an animal treated with antibiotics is allowed to be slaughtered for meat, they must go through a withdrawal period. While it varies based on the type of antibiotic given and the dose, this withdrawal period ensures that the antibiotics are sufficiently out of the animal’s system before the animal enters the food supply. For a very excellent discussion of how these withdrawal times are determined, check out this article.
Withdrawal periods ensure that there are no antibiotics in our meat.
And yes, there is testing done and checks done to make sure that antibiotic residues are not showing up in our meat supply. Not every piece of meat is tested, obviously. However, the USDA does do random sampling and keeps track of data they obtain. (You can read more about how this is done for meat, poultry and eggs here.) As veterinarian Scott Hurd explained in his article, which he wrote during Panera’s offensive antibiotic-free campaign for chicken, after looking at that residue data:
Of the scheduled residue samples from 2009-2011, there have been 0.13 percent violations in market hogs, 0.12 percent in beef cattle and ZERO in broilers. For those not mathematically inclined, “zero” means antibiotic free!
US farmers are doing a darn good job of keeping antibiotic residues out of our meat supply! (By the way, I’ve previously explained that there are also no antibiotics in our milk.) Unfortunately, that isn’t the information that people are likely to glean from the news stories that have been circulating.
The reality is, we live in a world of headlines. Most people will never click on the CNN article and read to see what this report actually reviewed, or what information was really being presented, or even that these two activist organizations were behind it. At the very least, shame on the media for using a misleading headline over and over again that will surely confuse consumers into thinking that there are antibiotics in our meat.
There are not. Now stop.
So, what about what the report was really looking at – the use of antibiotics in our meat production?
Yes, it is true that animal agriculture employs the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually used to treat sick animals, treat the herd to prevent animals from getting sick, or in some cases, to promote growth. (You can read more about that here.) The real concern here is about antibiotic resistance building up from the frequent use of antibiotics. (You can read more about that here.) Of course, this is something that should concern all of us, and we should all consider ways we can reduce this resistance from occurring.
That being said, farmers care about preventing antibiotic resistance, too. After all, we want to make sure these important, life-saving medicines will work for our families if and when the time comes.
While they use antibiotics, farmers do take steps to reduce the development of resistance, such as using antibiotics that are not commonly used as medicine for humans. Furthermore, the FDA has been taking steps to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production, both by phasing out their use in production practices (such as for promoting growth) and making the use for preventing or treating disease under the oversight of a licensed veterinarian. To implement these changes, the FDA is working with the industry and asking the manufacturers of these antibiotics implement them. You can read more about the FDA’s efforts here.
The new FDA regulations are an important first step in slowing the problem of antibiotic resistance. This is a problem that all of us, not just farmers, will need to tackle. We should also recognize there is a difference between using antibiotics to treat sick animals, and using these important medicines simply for production practices. But none of this has anything to do with the report and the misleading headlines – our meat does not have antibiotic residues and consumers should not worry about consuming antibiotics in any animal products. Properly cooking the meat to kill any bacteria — resistant or not — should be the main concern.
But that’s exactly what this “report” and it’s findings were meant to accomplish.
Unfortunately, Earth Justice and the Natural Resources Defense Council have decided to create this list, in hopes that consumers will pressure these companies to stop sourcing meat from farms that still use antibiotics. We’ve seen these types of tactics from the likes of Food Babe, and I don’t think misleading folks is the way we work to make changes in our food policy. Worse, I’m sure their use of a misleading headline was less than innocent. It isn’t at all surprising to me that the report concluded Panera and Chipotle, two restaurants that have a soft spot for unfairly attacking agriculture, got top marks.
Bottom line: There are no antibiotics in your meat!
Grass-fed beef has slightly lower levels of saturated fat than corn fed beef. While grass-fed beef does have slightly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than cattle finished on corn and grain, neither type of beef is a rich source of omega-3s compared to fish. Salmon, for example, contains 35 times more omega-3s than beef. Whether these differences translate to a truly meaningful health benefit in the context of a varied diet has not been established.
Interestingly, new research from Texas A&M University found that men who consumed corn-fed beef improved their cholesterol levels while men who consumed grass-fed beef experienced no change.
"There really were no negative effects of feeding ground beef from the pasture-fed cattle," said the study’s director Dr. Stephen Smith. "We did see many positive effects in men that consumed ground beef from corn-fed cattle. The ground beef from the USDA Prime cattle increased HDL cholesterol and LDL particle diameter. Both effects are protective against cardiovascular disease. The Prime ground beef also decreased insulin, so it may have some protective effect against type II diabetes."
Both grass-fed and corn-finished beef are among the most nutrient-dense foods available and both are good choices. Consumers should choose the one that they prefer. “And if you are looking for omega-3s, you need to go to the fish products,” says Benjy Mikel, Ph.D., professor of animal science at Mississippi State University.
As a farmer I feel frustrated. Consumers want farmers to practice good animal husbandry and at the same time they want milk and meat to be produced without the ...use of antibiotics. How can I give my cows the best care possible if I cannot help them when they are sick?
When your child is sick, you take him/her to the doctor and use antibiotics for a speedy recovery. If your pet falls ill I bet you take him/her to the vet and use the antibiotics the doctor prescribes. It's no different with livestock.
Farmers work closely with a veterinarian and use antibiotics ONLY when necessary. They follow the label's instructions and make sure the drug is used properly. Why?
1. It's is the right thing to do.
2. Antibiotics are expensive!
So what's the deal? Are you worried about antibiotic residues reaching the food your family consumes? Did you know that there are withhold periods when using pharmaceuticals? Or that milk and meat is tested at various levels and is discarded if and when it tests positive for antibiotics...at the farmer's expense?
So I ask you, do you want products from farmers who give their animals the best care possible, or milk and meat produced from farmers who don't use antibiotics, because I can't do both.
Check out this Myth regarding beef cattle!
Myth: Cattle and other livestock are the primary contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Fact: The ...U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that meat production contributes 2.1% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Not only is it a small percentage, but America’s farmers and ranchers are continually looking for ways to decrease their footprint. When compared with beef production in 1977, a Washington State University study found that the beef industry has reduced the carbon footprint of each pound of beef today by 16 percent.
Search Results for: transglutaminase
There have been a multitude of questions about transglutaminase or “meat glue” lately. Let’s set the record straight on this safe, naturally-occurring enzyme that has been used for nearly two decades.
What is Transglutaminase or “Meat Glue”?
Transglutaminase (TG) or “meat glue” is a naturally-occurring enzyme, composed of simple amino acid chains.
Why is TG used?
TG is often used to ensure uniform portion sizes and to prevent food waste, like combining smaller cuts of meat into larger servings. TG may also be used to bind bacon to a filet for a delicious bacon-wrapped steak.
Is it safe?
Yes, TG has a long history of safe use according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. TG has also been generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is not classified as an allergen in the United States or Europe.
Is TG labeled?
Yes. If a product contains TG, “transglutaminase” will be included in the ingredient statement. A meat product that contains TG will also indicate “formed” or “shaped” on the label.
How should I handle and cook meat containing TG?
Meat containing TG should be handled or cooked the same as any other meats; be sure to cook all meat to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source and allow the cut to rest for 3 minutes before eating. TG is deactivated by most cooking techniques and most people can’t detect any change of flavor to foods it’s used on.
How do I know if I am being served or purchasing meat with TG?
If you would like to know if meat you are served in a restaurant contains TG, just ask your server if it is a formed product. Regardless of whether or not TG is used, it is 100% beef.
In grocery stores, a product that uses TG will say “formed” or “shaped” on the label.
How is “meat glue” used in practice by chefs?
This naturally occurring enzyme is most commonly used to bind proteins together to make uniform portions of, for example, beef tenderloins, which recovers the less useful tapered ends of the tenderloin. By fusing two small pieces of tenderloin together chefs can maximize utilization and reduce food waste. Transglutaminase can also be used for creative applications in modernist cuisine, such as bacon wrapped filets or creating sausages without a casing.
For more information visit the USDA Website.
Fed up with all the labels on beef? Grain finished, grass finished, all-natural, organic…What does it all mean?!
We understand the frustration, but we are here to help! If you ever have questions about the differences in beef labeling, contact us or visit FactsAboutBeef.com. We want to make sure you're not only eating beef, but you're comfortable serving it to your family, no matter what the label says! Check out this infographic to help break down the facts about labels on beef.
This is a reminder for Alabama forage producers: don't forget to scout your summer grass forages for fall armyworms. A few fall armyworms have already been found in pastures and hayfields in Lamar and St. Clair Counties in Alabama. So far there have not been enough insects to cause economic loss. However the weather forecast calls for warmer, drier weather in Alabama the next few weeks. We know hot and dry weather is better for fall armyworms than for their natural enemies. Therefore, it makes sense to start scouting now.
To scout for fall armyworms, use a sweep net to take about 40 sweeps in several areas of each field. If you know of particular fields or spots within fields that often have fall armyworm problems, start with those areas. If you find numerous fall armyworms, take a closer look to see how many caterpillars are present per square foot. If there are more than 2-3 per square foot, it is time for action. Early harvest can salvage the forage and kill many fall armyworms. If the field is not ready to harvest, there are various insecticides that can be used to control fall armyworms in pastures (see Pastures and Forage Crops Insect and Weed Control Recommendations for 2015, from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
More information on managing fall armyworms in Alabama forage grasses can be found on this resource board.
If you find enough fall armyworms to take action in your Alabama forages, please let me know so I can update our Fall Armyworm Watch Map.
Myth: Ranchers aren’t doing anything about drug residues in beef.
Fact: Farmers and ranchers are committed to raising safe, wholesome beef. In addition, the United States has a complex residue control system, with rigorous processes for approval, sampling, testing, and enforcement activities. The National Residue Program is designed to prevent the occurrence of violative levels of chemical residues in meat and poultry products. Three principal agencies are involved in the control of residues in meat and poultry products:
Hamburger patties in a beef processing plant. Source: Grist
What is a residue?
A residue refers to the presence of veterinary drugs or pesticides in meat. These residues are usually measured in parts per million or parts per billion. The overwhelming majority of meat products contain no residues or residues within the government prescribed tolerance levels. Veterinary drug tolerances are established by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. EPA establishes tolerances for registered pesticides under the Food Quality Protection Act.
How are veterinary drug (including antibiotics) residues controlled?
What is the Repeat Residue Violators list?
How does the Residue Violators list work?
To learn more about antibiotic residues, watch this video of experts developed by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
Is consumer fear of GMOs an issue for beef producers? If so, how should the beef community respond? Today’s blog explores the issue and what beef producers can do to prepare for questions about GMOs in livestock feed.
Last week, my hometown’s newspaper reprinted an article from The Washington Post titled, “Why we’re so scared of GMOs.” Written by Roberto A. Ferdman, the article referenced Chipotle’s recent decision to no longer serve food made with GMOs. Recognizing the consumer fear and misunderstanding, Ferdman explains how the scientific community has a lot of confidence in GMOs.
Ferdman writes, “There is now near unanimity among scientists that GMOs are safe to eat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have all said that GMOs are fine for consumption. Yet the divergence between scientists and the American public has only grown bigger. As of last fall, nearly 60% of Americans believed that GMOs were ‘generally unsafe.’ Back in 2000, the population was pretty much evenly split.”
In the interview, Jayson Lusk, Oklahoma State University agricultural economist, says natural and organic food producers oftentimes market their goods by slamming conventional agriculture.
“What brought it to everyone's attention was, quite frankly, the sellers of many natural foods and organic products,” Lusk says. “I don't want to say that they were stoking people's fears, but they kind of were, at least to the extent that that helps sales of their own products. So there was some of that advertising, and the advertising that pitched products as not containing GMOs, which raised consumer awareness.”
“Most people don't have a lot of knowledge about GMOs,” Lusk says. “The average person hasn't spent much time thinking about it. Nonetheless, if they were to see a label about them, they would likely be averse to them. It's something that seems a little unnatural, and there's a psychological tendency to desire naturalness in food and avoid some forms of novelty in food. That plays into a psychological bias that we have against them. So it's not necessarily that people have a strong, innate aversion to GMOs, per se, so much as that they have a negative reaction to something that seems like an additive or unusual.”
You can read the Q&A with Lusk in its entirety here, but the interview got me thinking about whether or not GMOs — and the corresponding fear and misunderstanding consumers seem to have about GMOs — should be a concern for beef producers.
I’m afraid the answer is yes. Any time one segment of agriculture is attacked, if it doesn’t directly affect us, it’s human nature to sigh a breath of relief knowing that the bullseye isn’t on our chest. However, because livestock are the biggest consumer of corn, if defending GMOs is an issue for corn producers, then it’s certainly an issue for beef producers, as well.
Besides, we are already well-versed in trying to educate the public about beef. Cattle producers have been the target of many attacks over the years. Remember lean, finely-textured beef? How about BSE? And of course, we can’t forget beef being linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, water waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.
We are constantly trying to correct a misinformed, sensationalist media, and in some ways, I think the beef industry is making a lot of progress with the general public when it comes to folks loving beef as a nutritional and delicious source of protein.
My point is, if we want to be strong advocates, we need to ask ourselves if we are prepared to discuss, defend and educate on other topics, one of which is GMOs. If you feed conventional corn to your cattle, there may come a day where you will have to label your beef as containing GMOs because regulations for mandatory GMO labeling demand it.
On that topic, Lusk offers some of his views on whether GMOs should be added to a food label.
“If there's some demonstrable health or safety risk, I think it's without question a must. That's true for, say, peanuts, because so many people are allergic. It's also true of nutritional labels, because we know that the number of calories and other nutrients you consume has a direct relationship to your health. Those are legitimate reasons to label foods, he says.
“But since the scientific community is more or less in agreement that GMO crops are no more harmful than traditional crops, it is less clear what is the purpose or benefits of a label. Now, voluntary labels are another thing. There are all sorts of voluntary labels out there. There are many things that people care about individually, and are willing to pay more for. There's a pretty healthy market for voluntary non-GMO products, and I don't see anything w
rong with that. That's not to say that I don't see abuses of people's trust. I have seen salt labeled as non-GMO, when salt, by definition, cannot be genetically modified, since it's a mineral and doesn't contain DNA.”
It’s time to “beef up” your advocacy toolkit and be prepared to answer consumer questions about GMOs, if they should arise.