October 13, 2009

The Meat Debate Continues - What You Didn't Hear Last Night

Posted: 04:48 PM ET

In case you missed it last night, we had a great debate on the safety of eating meat, and the dangers of E. coli.  Guests Bill Marler, an expert on food borne illness litigation, and Patrick Boyle, Pres. of the American Meat Institute, continue the debate today on the blog:

From Bill Marler:

Should Americans continue to make meat -- and particularly hamburgers -- part of their diet?It was an honor to be on Larry King. E. coli in meat is an incredibly important and complex issue, and I’m glad we were able to start a discussion about it. Because there isn’t time on a fast-pasted interview show to get into the nitty gritty of how to accomplish a safer meat supply, here are my suggestions:

Short Term

1. The President must appoint an Undersecretary for Food Safety now whose sole mission is safe food. The Undersecretary should, and needs to be the responsible person within the FSIS on this important issue, advocating and making decisions solely on behalf of public health. That person and staff should spend time with Stephanie Smith and the family of Abby Fenstermaker.

2. Provide tax breaks for companies that push all types of food safety interventions, including vaccines, irradiation and employee training. Greatly expand traceability of high-risk meat products and work directly with the big retail chains to lessen price pressure on manufacturers.

3. There are too few legal consequences for sickening or killing customers by selling contaminated food. We should impose stiff fines, and even prison sentences for violators, and even stiffer penalties for repeat violators.

(Read Mr. Marler's full opinion here)


From Patrick Boyle

President of the American Meat Institute

In the wake of extensive news coverage of food safety broadly, and beef safety in particular, I was glad to be part of the panel discussion on meat safety on Larry King Live.

As I mentioned last night, the U.S. beef industry has a single-mindedness of purpose: to produce beef that is as safe as it possibly can be because this benefits our customers, our families and our businesses. We are selling a fresh product, however, and fresh products by their nature can contain germs. That’s why AMI is committed to providing consumers the information that they need to handle ground beef safely, such as:

* A dedicated Web site

* A brochure detailing food safety progress titled “Meat and Poultry Safety.”  To download CLICK HERE.

* A brochure detailing key safe handling practices, also available for download at

* A short, two-minute consumer video about why hamburgers need to be cooked thoroughly.  CLICK HERE to view.

While the segment was no doubt emotional and difficult at times, it offered a format for me to discuss the industry’s efforts to attack this challenging and complex problem. That being said, I am glad I have this opportunity to reinforce the statistics and progress I mentioned on the program last night.

(Read Mr. Boyle's full opinion here)

Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive

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alex lyrics   October 13th, 2009 7:31 pm ET


Anastasia   October 13th, 2009 8:30 pm ET

It's about time someone told the other side of the story and provided the facts. Thank you, Mr. Boyle.

Dee Moore   October 13th, 2009 8:38 pm ET

The people who are speaking about how good meat is for our health are being paid to do so by the meat industry.

The people who said a vegetarian diet is healthier are being paid to do so by the ???????? industry.
I don't think there are any conflicts of interest here.

Larry Pinell   October 13th, 2009 8:54 pm ET

Thanks so much, Larry, for covering this important topic. Myself, I have been vegetarian for almost 15 years, in large part owing to the issues discussed last night and especially the negative moral and environmental impact of factory farming of meat. I would look forward to more coverage on these issues.
Thanks so much. Love your show, as always!

JHRao   October 13th, 2009 10:36 pm ET

The healthy eating plan is essentially the same for all of us.
If you are a vegetarian then it is even more important to check you are getting all the nutrients you need from your diet.

Now,some guidelines may be followed for being a vegetarian.

Eat at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables every day
Include starchy foods such as wholegrain pasta, brown rice, cereals and pulses, lentils and peas so that they contribute about a third of your diet.
Eat a variety of protein foods such as dairy products, pulses or eggs through the week
Reduce the amount of frying and roasting in oil. Where possible grill, bake, boil, steam or poach your food.
Read product labels to see how much fat, fibre, sugar and salt is contained per portion or as a percentage
Choose products that are low in sugar and fat
Keep salt intake to a low level, check food labels and choose low salt varieties. Try not to use salt during cooking.
The average person should aim to drink 6-8 glasses (1.2 litres) of liquid each day and more if you take exercise.

The above is good sound advice for all but if you are on a meat free diet then you have to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need especially iron, protein and selenium. This is because these nutrients are typically obtained from the meat in a diet.

To get enough Iron

The chemical element Iron (Fe) is an essential dietary nutrient however it's consumption has to be regulated because larger amounts are toxic. The body actually regulates the uptake of iron however excessive intake can stop this process from working resulting in damage to the gastrointestinal tract.
Pulses, green vegetables like broccoli, spring greens, watercress and okra are great sources of iron. But you should be aware that your body will find it easier to absorb iron from the food you eat if you combine it with vitamin C. So take a glass of fruit juice with your meal.

To get enough protein.

The following foods are great sources of protein but it is important to have a mixture of these each day and vary the types you have during the week.

pulses ( lentils and beans)
nuts and seeds
milk and dairy products
soya or soya products like tofu
mycoprotein, which is sold as Quorn™
wheat proteins, such as cereals, bread, rice and maize

To get Selenium

Selenium is a trace element nutrient which is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.Selenium is found in nuts, cereals, fish and eggs. Brazil nuts are the richest source of Selenium so try eating a few each day as part of a snack.

Healthy eating is important and relatively easy to do. However, vegetarians must adopt a healthy eating plan that provides all the required nutrients.

NYVegan   October 13th, 2009 11:48 pm ET

First, as Dee Moore noted, those saying meat is a valuable part of the diet make their living–either directly or indirectly–from getting people to put dead, decaying animal carcasses into people's mouths. The "nutritionist", Nancy Rodriguez, was the principal investigator of more than a dozen studies funded by the meat and dairy industries and didn't even offer that E. Coli can't come from a plant because a plant doesn't have, well, an anus. So let's call them what they are: paid promoters of dead animal flesh. Second, no one responded directly to Dr. Campbell's claims (which were developed over decades and which are supported by dozens of peer-reviewed papers. Instead, his critics just repeated industry propaganda. Third, the consumption of animal products is morally indefensible, it greatly exacerbates problems with global warming, rainforest destruction, unsustainable demands on fresh water supplies, devastating pollution of both fresh water and ocean water, poor use of land, soil erosion, destruction of indigenous plant life, increased energy dependence, and world hunger.
Doesn't it make you curious when the only defenders of meat are paid by that industry, and the defenders of vegetarianism are the ones providing peer-reviewed independent research?
By the way, Larry, "vegetarian" was misspelled when Jonathan Safran Foer was introduced. And next time, try to find people who aren't paid to promote the meat industry–if you can. But thanks for bringing the issues to light for your viewers.

Jeannie C.   October 14th, 2009 3:35 am ET

I cannot go so far as vegan (and I say this with the highest respect for that group of committed and knowledgeable citizens) ...I have not eaten beef or pork in years and restrict other meat to the minimum. As for the occasional meat I do eat, I eat what my grandmothers ate... farm raised hens and rabbits. I will no longer tolerate the unnecessary suffering of factory farmed animals. I am lucky to live in Canada's "breadbasket" where cattle still graze on wild grasses but that reality is also shrinking in favor of large feed lots for profit.

As for healthy eating, eat 30% less calories per day. Don't eat what you don't recognize and listen to the wisdom of your grandmothers.

em   October 14th, 2009 10:29 am ET

vegetarians are nuts, displays just how stupid our world is.
i'm a vegetarian because you don't eat consciousness. pigs
are the 4th smartest animal in the world... fyi for people who love and honor their pets: soy does great in produce section for baloney and hotdogs, - tastes better, and has real protein, instead of snout. does good with frozen bacon. ....chick peas, kidney beans, chopped nuts, is real hambuger meat, and tastes way better; fake hambugar meat is corpse. ... marinate bugars in barbaque sauce, or fry them in sauce, nothing better.....

mooman   October 14th, 2009 10:45 am ET

Why Anthong Bourdain? He is a mental midget compared to Dr Campbell. On his show, he continually takes swipes at people who don't eat meat while salivating over something my dog would wonder about. He is the Sheppard who is leading his flock AND HIMSELF to cardiovascular disease.
Your food taste are a result of what you have eaten has you matured,BUT those taste can change! Eating SAD(standard American Diet) is a dangerous diet that can only lead to people acquiring the diseases that other eating this way develop.

Dusty   October 14th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

It's funny that all of you that brag of being vegitarians fail to note the most common cause of e-coli illness has been leafy vegetables.   October 14th, 2009 3:44 pm ET

Surely we all should know by now that the primary source of E.coli that has been found in leafy vegetables came from animal agriculture. E.coli comes from poop...not from spinach. It comes from the run off of factory farms. So- let's decrease the demand for animal product in this country and the lower occurence of E.coli will be just one of the many benefits that will take place.

I love reading all of the comments promoting a Whole Food Plant Based Diet. Un-bias scientific research doesn't lie.

Mike   October 14th, 2009 10:49 pm ET

E-coli can ONLY come from animals. If it ends up on plants, it originally had to come from an animal source.

Kasey said "yes it’s sad that an animal has to die, but think about the things that your doing, your helping feed the world."

But according to the USDA, no animals need die:
"Protein has many important functions in the body and is essential for growth and maintenance. Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods."

And if a lot of that grain that is very inefficiently used in the production of food animals were used to feed humans, then we would be truly feeding the whole world. According to the USDA, growing the crops necessary to feed farmed animals requires nearly half of the United States' water supply and 80% of its agricultural land. Additionally, animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90% of the soy crop, 80% of the corn crop, and a total of 70% of its grain.

The current factory farm model is a disaster. A report (Livestock's Long Shadow) from the United Nations says that the world's rapidly expanding livestock herds are responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gases (more than the transportation sector at 13%). This makes cattle "emissions" more damaging to the planet than the carbon dioxide produced from all the cars, trucks, aircraft and boats on the globe combined.

alex   October 15th, 2009 1:15 am ET

Great show. I would love to see more shows covering these topics. Thanks.

Environmental Guru   October 20th, 2009 11:20 pm ET

Mike, Let me see where USDA said we use 1/2 the water for farm animals. I've never heard those high of numbers before.
Also United Nations says the "WORLD'S" rapidly expanding livestock herds. Not the United States livestock herds. We have been decreasing ours for the past 10 years. Our cattle herd is the most efficent in the world.

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