October 4, 2018 -- Vegparadise News Bureau
Dangerous Drugs Found in Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Turkey
Alarm bells sounded when Consumer Reports announced in its October 2018 issue that banned drugs showed up in beef, chicken, pork and turkey. In an article titled "What's Really in Your Meat?" Consumer Reports researchers found four drugs that had been banned from meat: Ketamine, Phenylbutazone, Chloramphenicol, and Nitroimidazoles.
Ketamine is an experimental drug that is used as an antidepressant. The government restricts its use because it can become a hallucinogenic party drug. Ketamine has been found in pork and beef samples.
Phenylbutazone is no longer permitted for human use. It is a pain and anti-inflammatory drug that can cause aplastic anemia and other blood disorders. It is potentially cancer causing in humans. The drug is used in horses.
Chloramphenicol in any amount can lead to aplastic anemia and the inability to produce enough blood cells in 1 in 10,000 people. Chloramphenicol has been detected in beef, chicken, pork, and turkey samples.
Nitroimidazoles are antifungal drugs suspected of being carcinogens. Nitroimidazoles have been found in poultry, beef, and pork.
How did this happen?
What are the flaws in the inspection program?
The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is in charge of the program to insure meat is safe. The agency does not have sufficient resources to adequately protect consumers from purchasing chemically-contaminated meat.
A Johns Hopkins researcher pointed out FSIS has set higher thresholds for these drugs " because it doesn't have the resources to deal with extra violations that could result if it used lower levels."
Some scientists say FSIS testers focus on the wrong parts of the animals--muscles (what people eat) instead of kidneys and livers that more readily reveal dangerous drugs that animals have in their systems.
The enforcement of FDA's penalties for violators is ineffective. Instead of huge fines, violators receive warning letters, injunctions, seizures, and their names on a public list.
What about organic meat?
There is no guarantee that organic meat does not contain drugs, even though federal law requires organic farmers to raise their animals without drugs or chemicals. "The USDA Organic seal can't guarantee that the meat will be drug-free, but the additional rules and oversight do increase the odds," says Charlotte Vallaeys, Consumer Reports' organic food expert.
What can we do about this problem?
In an era where all regulation has been rolled back, the public should not depend on the FSIS for meat safety. The Consumer Reports article contains the following suggestion: "Research suggests that many Americans eat more meat than recommended for good health and that reducing meat consumption can be better for the environment. The potential problems identified here may be enough for some to consider eating less meat."