By Shiv Chopra1, B.V.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.,
Fellow World Health Organization
The latest recall of E. coli infected beef should not only be a concern for beef and beef products but also other meats, cheeses, vegetables and water.
E. coli is a generic name for billions of such bacteria thriving in the alimentary canal of humans and animals. Their presence in food or water indicates fecal contamination.
The consumption of any such food or water can cause deadly disease. It cannot become safe by cooking or irradiation. Irradiation of the end products, such as steaks, hamburger, etc., may kill microbes but it does not exclude their original source which is feces and urine. Irradiation of meat may also generate carcinogenic substances. All such food and water must be rejected.
What Promotes E.Coli Infection?
Virtually every E. coli infection traces to unsanitary conditions in which food-producing crops and animals are being cultivated, processed, transported, stored, and ultimately sold for human consumption.
Most food-producing animals these days are raised at mega farms, commonly called factory farms. From there, they get transported for thousands of miles to similarly large slaughterhouses without being fed or watered for as long as 48 hours.
Covered in feces and urine, dehydrated, frozen and badly bruised, approximately 50 percent of them are reported to arrive there already dead. Moreover, the mechanized tools and procedures used to slaughter these animals convey their infection-loaded excreta into the eventual meat and meat products for human consumption.
Finally, the waste water from these mega farms, slaughterhouses, packing plants and other establishments gets drained into fields, rivers, lakes and wells. Reports indicate that every year approximately 36 million Americans and 11 million Canadians contract food-borne infections, out of which many thousand get hospitalized and several thousand die.
Drugs Used in Livestock are Central to the Problem of Food Borne Illness
Central to this problem are the drug manufacturers selling tons of different antibiotics to prevent frivolous infections in farm animals. However, what ends up happening in these animals is that thus used antibiotics destroy harmless microbes in their alimentary canal and yield room to antibiotic resistant "super-bugs", such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, etc.
Due to these problems, large scale use of antibiotics is no longer allowed in the EU. In contrast, it continues to prevail in the US and Canada with government approval.
Another cause for concern is illegal approval of sex hormones by USFDA and Health Canada in beef production. Beef stimulating hormones are recognized to be "complete carcinogens". In other words, they can initiate cancers and also promote existing cancers. In addition, sex hormones are recognized to cause endocrine disruption.
As such, sex hormones cause reproductive disorders, such as infertility, precocious puberty, drop in sperm count, etc. Like antibiotics, no such hormones to increase beef production are allowed to be utilized in the EU.
Other Food Safety Concerns: Slaughterhouse Waste Used in Animal Feed, and GMO's...
Yet another concern for food safety should be the Canadian approval of slaughterhouse waste being fed to food-producing animals, which is known to transmit BSE in cattle (mad cow disease) and CJD (a fatal neurogenerative disorder) in people. Once again, any such use of slaughterhouse waste is strictly forbidden in the EU. The only other industrialized country allowing agricultural applications of antibiotics hormones and slaughterhouse waste is the US, whose food safety record is no better than that of Canada.
At issue also are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) attached to various herbicides and pesticides to increase agricultural yields of milk, meat, vegetables, fruits and ethanol whose public safety is being questioned throughout the world but not in Canada or the US.
These should be sobering thoughts for both Health Canada and CFIA. They cannot go on pretending the Canadian food supply to be the safest in the world when it is so frequently found to be unsafe. People have the right to know how their food is produced. The only sure way to know that is to conduct a public inquiry.
About the Author
Dr. Shiv Chopra is a world renowned scientist, author and public speaker. As a former employee of Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent of the US FDA) for 35 years, he was the Senior Scientific Advisor for the regulatory assessment of food and drugs, including new vaccines.