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Gross Things Found in Meat

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Posted March 3, 2016 by Hannah Healy

As if eating dead animals weren’t gross enough, there are hidden “ingredients” in meat products that aren’t just nasty—they’re a danger to your body and to your health.

1. Poop

Ever hear of disease-resistant bacteria? Pretty scary, right? Here is something even scarier: Consumer Reports tested a wide variety of ground turkey samples and found that 90 percent were contaminated with germs or “fecal bacteria.” Yes, “fecal” means poop! Many of the samples contained bacteria that were resistant to common antibiotics. The turkey samples were all equally at risk of being contaminated, whether or not they were labeled “organic” or “no antibiotics.” 

Turkeys-In-a-Truck

2. Carbon Monoxide

When you walk by the butcher section of the grocery store, you often see meat so red that it looks like it was just cut from a dead animal. How does it get so red, you ask? Many meat manufacturers actually inject meat with carbon monoxide! It’s the carbon monoxide that gives it that intense color. Basically, doing this allows meat to look “fresh” no matter how old it is.

Red-Meat

3. Campylobacter Bacteria

This one is a mouthful! Reports show that in the United States, campylobacter is the number one cause of bacterial foodborne illness. When an animal infected with campylobacter is slaughtered, the bacteria can be transferred to the animal’s flesh—and can then spread to humans who eat it. Chickens are a common carrier of campylobacter. It doesn’t matter if the chicken is organic or “free-range”—ANY uncooked poultry may be contaminated. And it gets even grosser. Campylobacter can cause bloody diarrhea. It can also cause fever, abdominal cramps, and even temporary paralysis.

3-Dead-Chickens

4. E. Coli

E. coli lives in the intestines of both humans and animals, but some strains can make people extremely ill. The vast majority of E. coli infections are spread through food. Animal flesh is at risk of being contaminated (and dangerous for humans) during slaughter as well as during processing. Undercooked meats are especially risky. Want the chance to experience bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, and possibly kidney failure? Chow down on some beef!

5. Ractopamine 

Imagine if a drug was so potentially dangerous to human health that 160 nations had BANNED or restricted using it on pig farms. Let’s go a step further and say these nations included ALL countries in the European Union, Russia, and even China. Now, imagine that the United States decided it didn’t care about the health concerns and used the substance anyway. This is no hypothetical situation. Ractopamine is a drug given to pigs to make them grow faster. Similar drugs have been known to cause weight gain, increased heart rate, insomnia, headaches, and tremors in humans. Doesn’t that just sound yummy?

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6. Ammonia

“Pink slime,” a cheap filler used in ground meats, is made by gathering waste trimmings (often cuts of meat once deemed appropriate only for dog food) and spinning them in a machine to separate the muscle. In order to kill the E. coli and whatever else the nasty pink mixture may contain, it is sprayed with ammonia. That’s right—ammonia. This ammonia-soaked mixture is frozen, sent to grocery stores, and often mixed with ground beef. Who wants ammonia for dinner?

7. Staph Bacteria

If you don’t know, Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that can cause food poisoning and skin infections in humans. It commonly shows up in the noses, throat, hair, and skin of both humans and animals and can infect humans through food. There are some scary statistics on this bacterium. The Translational Genomics Research Institute conducted research and found that 47 percent of meat and poultry samples taken from around the country had evidence of Staphylococcus aureus contamination! Even scarier? More than half of the bacteria found was resistant to common antibiotics.

“For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial. “

—Dr. Lance B. Price

Dirty-Chickens-in-Cage

8. Mercury

You probably already know that mercury is a kind of natural metal. What you probably didn’t know is that mercury gets into oceans and rivers because of human activities (such as through the use of power plants). When humans eat fish flesh contaminated with mercury, they absorb it as well. Mercury can cause nervous system damage as well as harm the brain and kidneys. It can also cause birth defects if consumed by pregnant women. According to CBS News, research shows that “84 percent of fish have unsafe levels of mercury.” Even though not everyone exposed will be harmed, there is no reason for mercury to be in a human body. 

In fact, none of these things belongs in your body. Play it safe and leave dead animals (and the nasty stuff inside them) OFF your plate!

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