The dangers of Escherichia coli

New York Times: Trail of E. Coli Shows Flaws in Inspection of Ground Beef. (Link via dangerousmeta!)

Just reading the description of how hamburger meat is manufactured makes me sick to my stomach. And that’s just a metaphor; for Stephanie Smith, the E. coli infection with a very dangerous strain called O157:H7 was life-threatening, and she will likely be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

The rules for processing meat might be a little tighter in the European Union or Germany, but the danger of contamination still remains high if meat from several sources is combined for grinding. The companies combine sources for hamburger in order to save money, but personally I don’t mind paying a bit more for safer meat.

We are lucky to have a good butcher in town: Each week they put up a notice stating where the animals they slaughtered were bred (all farms in a 30 mile radius), and if you want to buy ground meat, they always prepare it fresh and right before your eyes, and they use only meat, no fillers. It might be a little more expensive than pre-packaged groud meat from the supermarket, but it’s safer and tastes better.

Update: There’s a MetaFilter thread now as well: Welcome to the jungle.

One thought on “The dangers of Escherichia coli

  1. Scott Hanson

    I think I’ve blogged about this one time, and I know it’s illogical and completely based on emotion, but my experiences with German meat markets have been completely the opposite.

    I grew up in rural America where we had no farmer’s markets or butcher shops, only the local grocery store (or direct from local farmers). In high school I worked at the town grocery, responsible for the daily cleaning of the meat counter, two hours of scrubbing and sanitizing all surfaces and equipment every day.

    When we moved to Germany, my first experience with a German butcher shop was the stench of rotting meat. Cuts of beef were left hanging in the shop the entire day, unrefrigerated. I literally gagged at the smell. That was 20 years ago, and now through our business I know the health regulations that apply to all meat handlers. But that first impression has remained.

    I realize that outdoor markets here are part of German tradition, and everyone here learns from childhood that market produce is better and fresher. My experience is different, and cannot see the advantage of buying food from a trailer or back of a pick-up. And I’ve never bought meat from a German butcher shop, not once.

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