There is a growing concern over beef containing harmful pesticides, antibiotics and heavy metals being sold to the public. This disturbing information comes from a federal audit which says that the problem is caused because federal agencies have failed to set limits for the contaminants or adequately test for them. The audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General stated that a program set up to test beef for chemical residues “is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for … dangerous substances, which has resulted in meat with these substances being distributed in commerce.” That’s not good news for consumers and especially when you consider that the OIG’s audit says the health effects on people who eat such meat is a “growing concern.”
The testing program for cattle is being run by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which also tests meat for such pathogens as salmonella and certain dangerous strains of E. Coli. But there are other federal agencies involved. The residue program relies on assistance from the EPA, which sets tolerance levels for human exposure to pesticides and other pollutants, and the FDA, which does the same for antibiotics and other medicines. The audit points out that limits have not been set by the EPA and FDA “for many harmful substances, which can impair FSIS’ enforcement activities.”
The FSIS has agreed with the Inspector General on corrective actions and says it will work with the FDA and EPA to prevent residues or contaminants from entering into commerce. If that actually happens, it will be a step in the right direction. But even when the inspection service does identify a lot of beef with high levels of pesticides or antibiotics, it really doesn’t have the authority in many cases to stop the distribution of that meat. That’s because there is no legal limit for those contaminants.
Finally, it’s very clear that there is a most serious health threat to the consuming public. The Obama Administration and Congress must take all appropriate action to remedy this situation. Those GOP members of Congress who constantly harp about “too much government regulation” must get on board since the problem affects folks all over the country regardless of party affiliation. I would have to believe the beef cattle industry would welcome efforts by the federal government to correct the problem.
Source: USA Today
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