Washington Post: The Shady History of Nebraska Beef

Another meat contamination story is making headlines, and our link is to a story on the front page of today’s Washington Post. Even if you believe to your core that the meat industry is filled with sleazy companies, the reporting in this Post article will shock you.

One of the problems with eating non-factory farmed meat is that, even if the animals receive much better treatment, they often still end up at the very same slaughterhouse all the other animals are sent to. So, when one of these giant slaughterhouses issues an E. coli recall, you’ve got problems.

The slaughterhouse in question, Nebraska Beef, has a disturbing track record. According to the Post:

Nebraska Beef has a contentious history with the USDA. Over the past six years, federal meat inspectors have repeatedly written it up for sanitation violations, and the company has fought back in court.

From September 2002 to February 2003, USDA shut down the plant three times for problems such as feces on carcasses, water dripping off pipes onto meat, paint peeling onto equipment and plugged-up meat wash sinks, according to agency records.

Whole Foods Market is taking a real hit to their reputation over this: they’ve been forced to recall ground beef from all of their stores. And apparently seven customers have already come down with E. coli infections. The company probably deserves some blame for purchasing meat that was processed by Nebraska Beef. Processing violations aside, it’s pretty clear that the Nebraska Beef people are a bunch of scumbags, and anyone doing business with the company is likely to get burned. Again, from the Post:

In August 2006, federal meat inspectors threatened to suspend operations at the packing house for not following requirements for controlling E. coli. The company corrected the problem a week later, USDA records show.

That year, Minnesota health officials blamed Nebraska Beef for sickening 17 people who ate meatballs at a church potluck in rural Minnesota. Several victims filed lawsuits against Nebraska Beef, including the family of a woman who died. The company last fall sued the church, arguing that the volunteer cooks did not cook the meatballs properly.

Let me get this straight: a company ships out E. coli contaminated beef, and then sues a church? Shouldn’t the CEO have to go to hell for that? Link.