US Packing Plant Practices - The Washington Post investigates

Based on a seven-month investigation, a two-part series written by the Washington Post reveals major flaws in the U.S. government's meat safety net. A joint effort with Dateline NBC examines the spread of deadly E. coli bacteria. The Post reveals how increased production speeds at many processing plants causes the botched slaughter of cows and pigs, condemning the animals to a slow and painful death.
calendar icon 11 April 2001
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Modern Meat: Buyer Beware - An Outbreak Waiting to Happen
The first part of the series examines how inspection failures from both slaughter plants and USDA are contributing to the spread of deadly E. coli bacteria.
The article starts: "Did your daughter eat meat that was pink or red?" - The nurse's question puzzled Connie Kriefall. In an intensive care ward a few steps from where the young mother stood, doctors were struggling to save her only daughter, a 3-year-old with sapphire eyes and a mysterious disease.
In six days, tiny Brianna Kriefall had gone from a healthy preschooler with a tummy ache to a deathly sick child with advanced organ failure. Her kidneys had quit. Her heart was faltering. And now a nurse was asking: Could this be E. coli?


Modern Meat: A Brutal Harvest - 'They Die Piece by Piece'
The second part of the series examines the slaughter and packing processes and suggests that many plants are overtaxed and the humane treatment of cattle is often a battle lost.
The article starts: It takes 25 minutes to turn a live steer into steak at the modern slaughterhouse where Ramon Moreno works. For 20 years, his post was "second-legger," a job that entails cutting hocks off carcasses as they whirl past at a rate of 309 an hour.
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