The Bottom Line


Photo courtesy of Morguefiles

Last night I read an article online about the 10 best tasting hot dogs in America.  My favorite brand, Coleman hot dogs (no added hormones or antibiotics-ever), was on the list. Number one was Hebrew National Franks.

Now I am always looking for a good new hot dog, but because of my recent bout with breast cancer, I like to make sure they only contain beef that has never had added hormones or antibiotics.

I checked out the Hebrew National site. If they’re Kosher, does that mean no added hormones or antibiotics? No information was on the site, so I wrote to the company, Conagra, that makes the Hebrew National line.

“Are your beef products made using beef that does not contain any added hormones or antibiotics?” I asked.

Here is the company’s response:

“Thank you for your email concerning our Hebrew National Franks.

The animals are tested to assure there is no presence of antibiotics. This is a requirement of the USDA that livestock and poultry flocks be tested for residual antibiotic after the specified withdrawal time.

It is prudent to assume that if a beef product is not marketed as “contains no growth hormones”, that it may contain growth hormones.

There are no regulations that require the disclosure of any use of growth hormones to be indicated by a beef supplier.

The USDA is a great resource as well for this information:
www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_education/USDA_Meat_&_Poultry_Hotline/index.asp

Your comments are extremely valuable, and they help us make the food you love even better.

Thanks again for your feedback. We’re listening!”

It’s a very pleasant email. It’s polite and addresses my concerns. So why the hell did it piss me off so much?

It’s a bit like coating poison in honey. Someone who wasn’t paying attention, who didn’t notice an off taste or smell, might ingest the full dose and drop dead.

Take a look at the first sentence, addressing my question as to whether the beef contained antibiotics. Notice how they reassure me that there is no presence of antibiotics in the beef and then end the sentence with “after the specified withdrawal time.” In other words, yes, the cattle WERE fed antibiotics and the beef did (and possibly still does since every steer and every ounce of beef cannot be tested) contain antibiotics, but that information is downplayed by the very positive, “The animals are tested to assure there is no presence of antibiotics.”

Note their response to my question as to whether the beef contains added hormones. They don’t deny that it does, but then they brush over that fact by reassuring me that there are no “regulations that require the disclosure of any use of growth hormones to be indicated by a beef supplier.”

Well, I feel better now because we all know that the regulators, the FDA and USDA, would regulate something that was dangerous to humans right? They wouldn’t allow a substance in the food supply that was suspected of increasing the insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which in turn is suspected of increasing the rates of colon, breast and other cancers, would they (Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), Oregon Chapter)?

So why have almost all industrialized countries, except the U.S., banned the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in beef and dairy (Dairies Nix Artificial Hormone)?

Could it be that other industrialized nations care more about the welfare of their people and the quality of their food production than the bottom line?

No, it couldn’t be, right? The FDA is on our side. After all they didn’t let red dye 2, which caused cancer (REGULATION: Death of a Dye), into consumer products, did they?

So it must be ok to eat Hebrew National franks.

Thanks, FDA and Conagra, for caring.

For those of you who are concerned about consuming beef and dairy that contain rBGH, here is a resource for finding rBGH-free products:

rBGH (rBST) Free Dairy Processors: Top 100 List (as of 9/15/10)


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