Friday, July 26, 2013

Meat-Eater Corner: How to Choose Meat More Safely

Try these suggestion for choosing meat wisely.
Try these suggestion for choosing meat wisely.
Image: Shutterstock
There’s been a lot in the news lately about how germy and bad some meat can be for us. Some might even find themselves wondering whether or not they even want to continue being meat-eaters. I know I’ve pondered the possibility of going vegetarian myself, but I haven’t yet walked down that road.

I don’t know if I will ever commit to a meat-free lifestyle, so knowing how to choose the healthiest and safest meat is a top priority. Sure, it all looks the same when you’re browsing the meat aisle—but that assumption could get you into trouble.

I’m certainly no “germaphobe,” but I like to know that what I’m putting in my body the majority of the time is good for it. If you’re a concerned citizen like me, consider following some of these tips for making wiser decisions about meat.

Consider antibiotics. You mean those things I get from the doctor when I’m sick? Yep, that’s it. Many animals raised for meat are fed low doses of antibiotics to combat dirty living conditions and disease, ultimately giving some bacteria time to acclimate to antibiotics and become even harder to kill. These bacteria can be extremely dangerous, so it’s a good idea to look for meats that were produced without the use of antibiotics. These meats will be labeled with a “Certified Organic” seal, meaning that they were produced without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics (save when an animal was sick and needed medical treatment).

Avoid large processing plants. The bigger the processing plant, the more likely meat is to be cross contaminated with staph infection bacteria, and sometimes even MRSA. These types of infections are most likely to be found in poultry and pork products, especially when processed at large plants. Try finding meat from local farmers that slaughter on site or use smaller processing plants. LocalHarvest.org is a great resource.
Cows that are grain fed are more likely to harbor E. coli.
Cows that are grain fed are more likely to harbor E. coli.
Image: Shutterstock
Use trusted certifications like organic or Animal Welfare Approved. Without these labels, you have no way of knowing what living conditions were like for animals, what they ingested before slaughter, and more. Studies in the past have found that animals were fed antidepressants, painkillers, banned antibiotics, allergy medication, and even caffeine.


Grass, not grain. Grain helps cows grow faster, but it also creates physiological changes in their gut. These changes make it easier for E. coli to thrive and survive there. Look for American Grassfed or Animal Welfare Approved beef to minimize risk.
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