February 26, 2018

Meat Production and Safety Criticized

Meat production and safety criticized.

By Penny Riggs

Chair, ASAS Public Policy Committee

In a joint effort last week, The Guardian newspaper and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) have published a series of articles on “Animals Farmed.”  The safety of US meat and poultry was heavily criticized for “hygiene failings” that would alarm consumers regarding meat entering the United Kingdom. Two days later, a similar article took aim at United Kingdom meat and poultry plants. Both articles express concern about “dirty meat” for UK consumers.

In an article in Meat + Poultry, industry stakeholders defended the safety of US meat and poultry products.  In this article, Barry Carpenter, CEO of the North American Meat Institute pointed out that “The fact the incidents described by The Guardian were found by government inspectors and that the products involved never entered commerce shows that the US inspection system is working effectively.”  See the full article here.

This series by The Guardian and TBIJ represents another round of attacks on animal agriculture – to which the industry is required to respond from a defensive position.  A recent report in Science features an interview with John Besley of Michigan State who says the public still trusts science, and that scientists should share their excitement about their research findings instead of communicating “defensive rhetoric.” As animal scientists and professionals, we have a great deal of successes to communicate.  One of the sessions of this year’s International Livestock Congress will focus on ways for the livestock industries to “go on offense” with their message.  This unfortunate series of articles is a reminder for all of us in animal science to “play offense” and tell our great, positive stories about animal agriculture.