When it comes to consuming beef manufactured and sold in the US, a new report by the USDA warns there are many more concerns for the consumer beyond the usual pathogens mentioned in this journal (ie, E. coli, Campylobacter, etc.). As reported today by CNN, contained within the average cuts of meat available at the local butcher are a potential multitude of unappetizing components you may not suspect, like antibiotics, pesticides, and even heavy metals.
According to the USDA’s inspector general, federal agencies have failed to set limits on many potentially harmful chemical residues, which "has resulted in meat with these substances being distributed in commerce." When it comes to pesticide traces, only one type is tested for, according to the report. There are also no set limits for some heavy metals, like copper.
This should be of no small concern.
"Some of the residues that the inspector general cited could be carcinogenic, as they accumulate over a period of time in the body," he said.
The study focused on contamination by chemical residues, rather than bacteria. While bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella can cause an illness that is acute but brief, chemical residues are more like to build up over time, and no amount of cooking will destroy them.
in response to the report, the USDA pledged to "swiftly implement the corrective actions" recommended by the inspector, which including testing for more kinds of residue and setting limits on how much of each substance is allowable. A department spokesman pointed out that this kind of fix, which is expected to require coordination with the FDA and the EPA, was one of the main reasons President Obama created a Food Safety Working Group last year.