Eating meat products anywhere is under fire recently, including fears that humans are destroying the planet for beef. Even poultry products are under increased scrutiny, with all kinds of growth hormones, antibiotics, and even poisons like arsenic being fed to chickens raised in commercial poultry farms. Wost of all, processed meat products people buy in their favorite supermarkets are chock full of questionable ingredients, including the notorious transglutaminase otherwise known as “meat glue”. Read on to consider some very good reasons for buying a whole animal or meat from organic sources. Much “fresh” meat in supermarkets is actually thawed from frozen cuts
Israel’s commercial meat processing industries are also coming under fire, despite the strict dietary or Kasruth food laws that many Israelis follow as part of their daily lives. The issues surrounding commercial beef and poultry farms and slaughter houses in Israel were featured recently in a very informative and eye-opening feature article in the Haaretz weekend magazine.
Entitled “Meat your maker: What’s really inside an Israeli steak “ focused on the reality of the meat products industry in this country was revealed in a very graphic and thought provoking way.
The article covered both red meat (mostly beef) and poultry, which Israelis consume in amazing quantities due mainly to price considerations rather than for health reasons.
In regards to beef products, the 1994 Meat and Meat Products Law stipulates that only kosher meat can be imported into Israel. This means that after the kashering process has been done to the meat after slaughter, it arrives in Israel partially dehydrated due to the amount of salt used to rid it of blood.
Water is then added to the meat which often is far more than the 10 percent allowed by law (sometimes as much as 40 to 50 percent, according to the article).
Frozen beef is often sold in supermarkets as fresh cuts, as revealed in a previous Green Prophet article written almost two years ago. Mind you, all of these issues come even before talking about ones as adding all types of antibiotics, hormones and other additives into cattle food while the beasts are being fattened for slaughter. The use of the previously mentioned meat glue was not mentioned in the Haaretz article, but other types of flavor and texture enhances were, as said by Keren Hod, a clinical dietician:
“The substances involved include fillers (water, vegetable protein ), thickening and stabilizing agents (phosphates, gelatin, cellulose), leavening agents (sodium bicarbonate, yeast) and processed starches (monosodium glutamate, spices ). Accordingly, it’s worth taking note of the two words ‘water added’ on packaged meat.”
Chickens make up the bulk of meat Israelis eat and are divided into two main categories: the type raised in cages in commercial poultry farms and “free running” or organic ones which are fed less growth stimulants and (supposedly) no antibiotics.
The growth stimulants and other concoctions fed to cage raised chickens result in their reaching full growth of around 2 kg in only 38 days as compared to over 50 days for free running fowl.
According to the article, the use of antibiotics in poultry raising has been banned by many countries, including most EU countries, Australia and New Zealand. This also holds true for pesticides such as arsenic, which were used to rid the poultry of various parasites.
The anti-parasitic additive known as roxarsone which contains arsenic is still being marketed to poultry growers, while the Israel Agricultural Ministry “preferred the stand taken by the farmers who were guided by economic considerations.”
Toxic metals, especially cadmium, are found in high quantities in commercial poultry feed as well.
Although turkeys are raised in large numbers, they are still not as preferred like chickens. That doesn’t mean these larger foul are healthier, however, as they are also fed large quantities of hormones and other growth stimulants as well as other questionable ingredients.
Both cattle and poultry have often been given feed composed of “organic remains” of animals, which often include feces or “poop” to put it more bluntly.
Organic chickens are required to be fed food made form organic grains, which result in their meet being much more expensive for consumers: NIS 38 per kg as compared to prices as low as NIS 9 per kilogram for commercially raised foul sold in large supermarket chains.
The brutal treatment that animals receive during their wretched lives is another matter, however. Specifically mentioned were cattle raised in commercial “feed lots” where overcrowding and filthy conditions are often the norm. We talked about this in the article on swine farms where pig abuse is rampant.
The bottom line to this story appears to be the profit motive of raising “factory farm” animals instead of those raised on organic food and kept in more sanitary conditions: “The supermarket expects to make a profit of 30% on my chickens,” an organic poultry grower told the Haaretz reporter. This is why his products cost so much more.
Judging from what is usually seen at supermarket meat counters, most consumers appear to pass up the more expensive natural brands for the cheaper chemical laced ones, poop and arsenic and all.
Word of caution: if these atrocities are happening in Israel where the government is fairly authoritative we wonder what can possibly be happening in other Middle Eastern countries with little regulation over meat.
More about commercial meal issues in Israel and elsewhere:
Arsenic Fed Chickens – Watch Out!
The Meat You Eat May Not be What You think
Meat glue: Is Anybody talking About It?
Pig Abuse Rampant in Kosher Israel
Chicken Farm in Taiwan from Shutterstock