Picky Eater Decodes the Beef Scare

What goes into a 99¢ burger can be pretty unpleasant, author Pollan says
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2008 5:53 PM CST
A worker throws a piece of meat among the cattle carcases scraps dropped into a parked truck at the Hallmark Meat Packing slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. Video footage showed...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Don't fault slaughterhouse workers for this week's enormous beef recall, author and foodie Michael Pollan tells Newsweek—it's the system. Blinding-fast production lines that expect workers to slaughter up to seven cows per minute do not a safe or ethical steak make. "It's one of those episodes that peels back the curtain on how our food is prepared," Pollan says.

"What it takes to get a 99-cent double cheeseburger are these kinds of shortcuts: downer cattle and 400 head slaughtered an hour," Pollan says. The alternative for the consumer is simple: Buy more expensive beef from farmers' markets and independent producers. "Ultimately, that's the only real assurance: talk to the person who has raised the meat," Pollan says.