Page 1

LabelReader’s Digest Get Ready For a Journey

Find out What’s


in Your Meat!

-VSFactory Organic What are the Pros and Cons? BEHIND The Label The Meat Chamber of Secrets

In This Issue May 2014

Page Number The Meat Chamber of Secrets


Do You Know What’s In Your Meat?


A Closer Look: Factory vs. Organic Farming


Behind the Label


An Unexpected (But Expected) Journey 13 About Us What’s on your plate? Do you really know? Are you a label reader, or a junk food eater? Here at LabelReader’s Digest, we want to help you understand what’s really on the end of your fork. Between factory and local farms, what is really the best choice for your health? Factory farms use unfavorable methods and chemicals to raise their livestock, while local farms lean towards a more natural end of the spectrum. Next time you buy meat products, look for a label and see what is actually inside. We want you to explore your options when it comes to eating a more natural, healthy diet. You deserve to know what is really in your food, and how that affects your health.

The Meat Chamber of Secrets It’s no secret that certain ingredients or chemicals are added to our meat before we consume it. Recently, it has become a more popular topic in the media. What are these chemicals, and why are they added to things like beef, pork, and chicken? They make the animals that are harvested for their meat bigger, faster, and stronger so that they have more meat to satisfy consumers. The real question is, what do these additives do to our bodies? Of course, the FDA has to approve all of the hormones and additives before they can be used in farm animals, and before the meat can hit the shelves of grocery stores. Even

so, most of these additives have only been approved for around 15-50 years. What does that have to do with you? Well, our generation of twenty-somethings will be the first generation to grow up eating entirely meat that has been processed with hormones. The research done by the FDA was considerably limited. The additives were only tested on lab rats, and many say that not enough testing was carried out at the time. It still remains pretty much unknown what these will do to generations to come. All over the world, testing is being done on these additives. So far, it’s showing that some

By Rachel Flanagan pretty nasty side effects may become an alarming reality in the future. Okay, but what’s going to happen to me? Some of these additives may not show side effects for generations to come. However, there are some side effects that can occur for regular meat consumers. Research has shown that some consumers feel more groggy or tired, have unusual or unexplained aches and pains, diarrhea, stomach issues, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer (Fact Sheet on Hazards). The FDA is aware that these additives and hormones can cause side effects if eaten in large amounts, but it’s of no


immediate concern. Why are these still being added to our food? The answer is simple. They can be added to make food look more attractive, extend its shelf life, and lower the costs of production. There are some additives that are given directly to the animal, before it’s processed into meat. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are hormones that are used 3

to make the animals grow stronger, and gain weight faster. A pellet is implanted behind the animal’s ear, and slowly releases the hormones into the bloodstream (Barrett). It has been said that these pellets do not affect the consumer because the ear with the implant is removed before slaughtering the animal. On the other hand, the hormones are still in their bloodstream.

What are the risks? It has been shown that these hormones are endocrine disrupters in humans, meaning they can alter development in the fetus and in the growing child as well. These hormone pellets are also cancer causing carcinogens. Another study suggests that pregnant women who consume beef regularly can cause a lower sperm count in their sons. It has been said that by the third genera-

tion of beef consumers, their sons could be completely infertile (Fact Sheet on Hazards). For these reasons and others, hormone pellets are banned in other countries across the world, such as Canada and the European Union. The other common hormone is used in dairy cows, and is called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH). It causes the cows to produce milk at a much higher rate, making 15-20% more milk. It was approved in 1993 by the FDA. It’s a naturally occurring hormone but it is being produced

synthetically to be injected into dairy cows (Grace Communications). RbGH doesn’t only cause risks to humans, but to the dairy cows as well. It can cause cows to get infections in their udders, become infertile, and give birth to calves with underdeveloped limbs. The risks to humans include, but are not limited to breast cancer and colon cancer (Grace Communications). It’s banned in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan. Because the hormone is fairly recently approved in the United States, it’s still undergoing testing. Additives and hor-

mones like these can be fatal when added to the meat we consume. As mentioned earlier, they can cause many foul side effects to humans. The symptoms that have been found so far are just the beginning. The additives that are used are too recent to the market to know very much about. So, who knows what symptoms will arise from additives in the future? The only way to avoid consuming these chemicals and hormones is to buy locally, or to buy from the organic section in the grocery store and always read labels carefully.


Do You Know What’s In Your Meat? What’s in that burger you’ve got there? Circle the ingredients you don’t think are in your meat, you may be surprised. Ammonium hydroxide Citric acid High fructose corn syrup Sodium bisulfate Butter Sulfuric acid Carnobacterium Maltoromaticum Plastic Sodium Radium

What’s in your meat?-Ammonium hydroxide, citric acid, sodium bisulfate, sulfuric acid, Carnobacterium Maltoromaticum, sodium


A Closer Look: Factory vs. Organic Farming The face of agriculture in the United States is changing rapidly, as farming becomes increasingly industrialized. The number of farms has dropped significantly, meaning that small family-owned and organic farms are dominated by fewer, larger farms. More industrialized farms, also called “factory farms,� are where large numbers of livestock are raised indoors under strictly controlled conditions. The overcrowding of these animals may lead to pollution and be damaging to the environment through large amounts of animal waste. To maximize production and

profit, they often use hormones and antibiotics to manage the growth of the animals. Even though factory farming has become more common, the trend surrounding organic food that began several years ago now appears to be a mainstream lifestyle for some. Organic farming requires the rejection of synthetic hormones, antibiotics and other medications on their livestock. The animals on these farms are allowed more access to the outdoors and are provided with organic feed. The living conditions and the use of chemicals in industrialized farms are harsh on the animals, and they may

By Elaine Kollaja also lead to health risks for humans. The main concern in receiving meat from a factory farm is that hormones are often used to control the growth and development of the animals. They are typically in the form of small pellets that are placed under the skin on the back of an animal’s ear, which slowly releases small amounts of the hormone and then dissolves. Hormones can make animals gain weight more quickly, therefore decreasing the amount of feed eaten by an animal before slaughter and reducing costs for producers. Industrial operations also


utilize hormones to achieve leaner meat. In dairy cows, hormones can be used to increase milk production and expand the profitability of the industry. On a sustainable organic farm,

mones are produced naturally in our bodies and are essential for development, synthetic steroid hormones in livestock have been linked to health problems. If humans are exposed

Not only do industrialized farms use hormones on their animals, but also antibiotics to prevent health issues. On these farms, the animals live in crowded

it is much less likely that hormones would be administered to the animals because they must meet requirements made by the United States Department of Agriculture. They must also have onsite inspections annually, to ensure that the farms fit organic standards. Even though a variety of hor-

to high concentrations of these chemicals over an extended period of time, it is possible that it will be harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of several hormones in meat production, including natural estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

and unsanitary conditions with little opportunities for exercise, making them more prone to health problems. This use of antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are a threat to human health. On the other hand, animals on organic farms spend more time on a pas-


ture, have a balanced diet with organic feed, and are given a more sanitary living space. Another risk stemming from industrialized farming is the threat of ani-

growth hormones that are given to the livestock, waterways and plants are often contaminated on these farms. Organic small-scale farms have less waste to manage, and they

Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and animal waste have become sweeping concerns in the agriculture industry, and the solution is organic and family-owned farm-

mal waste and pollution. Factory farms concentrate large numbers of animals in one place, creating an unmanageable amount of waste. It is commonly mixed with water and then spread on cropland, but can be over-applied and run off into surface waters. Since the manure carries the antibiotics and

may more easily sustain and enhance the health of soil, plants, animals, and humans on the planet. They do not give their livestock hormones and strong antibiotics, so when they fertilize their fields with manure, the surrounding environment is not affected negatively.

ing. For individuals that are seeking a healthy lifestyle, organic farms are a reliable source for safe and nutritious food. Buying organic has a tremendous impact on the environment, and the animals and people who live in it.


Behind the Label When you walk by the meat aisle in the grocery store, you will probably see a variety of labels. What are you looking for? Many consumers look for labels like natural, certified organic, free range, or lean. But do we know what these labels actually mean? Meat producers use these labels to lure in consumers by making their product more appealing than it really is. What does “organic” really mean? Few actually know what 9

these phrases are defined as by the United States Department of Agriculture. Although these guidelines that are made to help consumers are strict, they are confusing and can be deceiving. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has created strict guidelines about how meat should be raised or prepared in order to use these labels. The Huffington Post brought our attention to a post on an online blog named

By Amber Miller The Stir. The specific post puts the long and somewhat confusing FSIS labeling guidelines into words that the average consumer can understand. “Organic” is a buzzword that many consumers look for, but few know what it really means. Some view it as just a healthier choice, but there is more to it than that. There is an official “Certified Organic” label for meat products, but to use this label, certain cri-


standards for “minimally processed.” These products can also still contain pesticides and genetically modified ingredients, which is not exactly the way that most consumers view as “natural.” How else

“Angry and let-down” can these labels be deceiving? In February 2013 Yahoo in the UK published a story about Aldi’s, a discount supermarket that was proven to have up to 100% horse meat in products that were labeled as beef. This is much different than a slightly deceiving label. The store released a statement saying it felt “angry and letdown” by

its supplier, who the blame is being put on. But can we really be sure of who is at fault after a scandal like this? After all, Aldi’s has to keep its prices low somehow. This is an example of how labels are not always what they seem to be. When consumers see “free range” on a package of meat, it is common for them to think that the animals were raised on a range and lived most of their lives outside. In reality, to be labeled free range, an animal must only “have access to the outdoors” for part of their day. This does not mean that the animal will actually ever make it outdoors. If they do make it out doors, it


teria must be met. It must be verified that the animal has never been given food with pesticides or chemical fertilizer. It can also never be given antibiotics, even if it was given to them to treat an illness. The meat also has to be processed in a Certified Organic facility. To be labeled “natural” a meat must have “no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed.” It has to have a label saying if it has “added coloring, artificial ingredients,” or “minimally processed.” But what does “minimally processed” mean? It is non-specific terms like this that can not only confuse consumers, but also allow meat companies to define their own


definitely doesn’t always mean it spends all of its time outside. This is deceiving to consumers who try to buy meat that is kinder to animals or for the certain health benefits of range feeding. The most deceiving label would be “hormone free.” All animals naturally have hormones. There is no such thing as a 100% hormone free piece of meat. The label only distinguishes meats that have not been treated with synthetic growth hormones from meats with natural hormones. Meat producers will label poultry and pork with this to make it more market11 able for health-

nuts then mark up the price. But it is illegal to treat poultry and pork with hormones, so they are only advertising that they are following the

rules. There’s nothing special about the meat to make the extra price worth it. After reading this article, you may be wondering just what to believe when it comes to labels. Marketers are paid to

make their product seem more appealing, and lawyers are paid to find the loophole in the system. You pay to get the products you want, and when you aren’t getting what you pay for, it’s frustrating! To find what you’re looking for, you may have to do some research. Contact your grocery store to get information on where their meat comes from. Once you find the source, you can ask them about things such as the treatment of their animals, what they are fed, and if they are treated with antibiotics and other injections or food additives. If your grocery store does not carry meat that is to your specifications,

you can find local farms and buy meat from them. If this isn’t an option, ask your grocer if they can supply a meat that meats your expectations. If they get enough requests, they will probably stock it. The FSIS is working to change these labels to better meet consumer’s needs, but there is only so much they can do. As more people find the flaws in the system, however, I think that there will be a lot more adjustments to labels in the coming years. There have already been a few adjustments hoping to make labels better for consumers. But improvements can always be made. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for both meat and its labels.


An Unexpected (But Expected) Journey When you go on trips you have to go through an extensive process before you are able to get to your destination. You systematically plan out what you will wear, and research thoroughly to make your flight plans. Before you board your plane, you have to go through security, and after being searched and scanned, you are shown down a small hallway, and then packed into the tiny planes. After this tiring ordeal, you are finally able to reach your destination. While preparing for your journey, have you ever considered that that meat that you purchased, and then con-


sume from the grocery store went through a similar process on the way to your plate? There are multiple places you can get your meat from, to start. You can go to your local farm, and then place an order to the farmer for whatever meat that they produce and sell, or you can go to the grocery store and purchase the meat from there. What is the difference between these two though, is a common question that can arise. When you place an order with your local farmer for a quarter of a cow perhaps, the farmer carefully selects a cow that is

By Walker Delaney mature enough to sell, kills it, and cuts up and cleans the meat and then gives it to you. If you go to the grocery store to purchase your meat though, the meat goes through a very different process; this is called factory farming. Factory farms are much larger than local farms and therefore; their procedure for selling, and butchering meat is different from local farms. When industrial farms feed their animals they do not let the animals graze or eat what they naturally eat, instead, the industry feeds them a corn and soybean based feed. These

protein-rich grains help to bring the animal up to market weight much faster then the animal’s natural diet. Local farms on the other hand, try to raise the animal as naturally as possible. They let them graze for food and sell them when they get to the right weight by themselves, which can take much longer, and is less efficient than the feed based growth that the industries prefer. The next step industrial farming typically takes is one of sorting the animals into different groups for butchering. Each different species of

animal has a different process, and these processes are typically violent and stressful for the animals to deal with. Cows and pigs are poked, prodded and shoved until they each are packed in cells, and chickens

are sucked up onto a conveyer belt and put into tiny, overcrowded shelves. While local farms don’t have to worry about sorting their animals because of how few animals they have, they take them indi-

vidually as needed to be butchered, but this process is much slower, and this is one of many reasons that industrial farms make more money than local farms.

After the animals are sorted, they are then bled out through having their throats slit by the workers in that area of the industrial farms. Immediately following the bleeding, the animal carcasses are hooked by their heels and sent down a conveyer belt to start their journey to your plate. While local farms put cows and pigs down with a pen gun, which is a gun shaped


tool that drives a metal pin the size of a large pen into the animals brain as fast as a bullet instantly killing it, industrial farms again, choose the faster option to get the meat to the plate faster. For chickens on local farms, the farmers typically lay them down on a chopping block and swiftly chop their head off, instantly killing the animal. After the animal has been killed, the farmers then drain the blood through the process of cutting their throats, much like the process used on industrial farms. The


cows and pigs are hung by their hooves and he chickens are laid down on a sterile table, until all of the blood drains out of their bodies.

In industrial farms, once the animal is fully drained, the conveyer belt then starts up and brings the animal down to a different level for butchering.

Once the animal has reached it’s destination, the first cut is made from the animal’s anus all the way down to the it’s sternum by a worker, but the cut only goes through the animal’s hide. Next, the carcass is brought to a second worker who then slices into the body cavity and removes all of the internal organs. Local Farms typically follow the same steps while cutting up the animals on their farms as well! The last stage for the carcasses in both farms is getting skinned and then being cut in different ways depending on what the buyer prefers.

In these two types of farms are extremely different in their processes for sending the animals meat to your plate. The local farms are very small and are easier to take care of the animal rather than treat them like dollar signs and not take into consideration of their health.

Banksy’s example of factory farm meat transportation.

Local farm cow


Our Sources Cover

The Meat Chamber of Secrets\uploads/2013/11/whats-in-your-meat.jpg cow+on+steroids.jpg Barrett, Amanda. “The Controversy Over Added Hormones in Meat and Dairy.”NYU Langone Medical Center. EBSCO Publishing, Nov. 2012. Web. 02 May 2014. “Fact Sheet on Hazards of Hormone Implants or Injections in Beef.” Fact Sheet on Hazards of Hormone Implants or Injections in Beef. Organic Consumers Association, n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. “RBGH.” GRACE Communications Foundation. Mansanto Corporation, Feb. 2014. Web. 04 May 2014.

Do You Know What’s in Your Meat?

A Closer Look: Factory vs. Organic Farming

Behind The Label

An Unexpected (Yet Expected) Journey

Labelreaders Digest  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you