The Mix

Another reason not to eat meat

Here's a good one: It's packaged with a poison intended to disguise the fact that it's old and/or spoiled.
As if there aren't already enough reasons to not eat meat, the Denver Post this morning unveiled an ugly truth about what's between the plastic wrap and your rump roast. It's carbon monoxide, the toxic gas that comes from your car's tailpipe, and it's put there intentionally by meat packagers to keep the meat looking "pink and rosy":
The carbon monoxide, which the Food and Drug Administration says is harmless at the levels being used, keeps the meat looking red for weeks by replacing the oxygen that would otherwise turn it the color of an old leather shoe.

"The problem is that carbon monoxide masks spoilage," said Chris Waldrop, deputy director of the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute. "It makes the meat appear bright red and fresh, and the consumer can't tell whether they're buying spoiled meat.

"It's deception, plain and simple."

Meat-industry executives say what's more troubling is their critics' hysterical pitch over something that's safe and government-approved.

They say other gases - such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen - have been used in packaging for bag salads, shredded cheeses and pasta for decades with little fanfare.
Of course, those other gases aren't, well, toxic. But hey, if it will sell just a few more slabs of meat -- even if it's spoiled and possibly deadly meat -- then it falls safely within the vast spectrum of misguided ideas this country's meat industry uses to push its unsafe products on consumers who've been convinced that price is the only factor that's important when it comes to food. Well, price and appearance, apparently.

So by all means, let's continue to fill our animals with hormones and antibiotics, slaughter them in horrific and cruel ways, then irradiate the meat and package it with carbon monoxide, and somehow convince meat-eaters that this is a healthy, humane and sustainable process that we've got going. I'll stick with my tempeh and almond milk, thank you very much.
Matthew Wheeland is AlterNet's managing editor.
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