Tainted Meat

Tainted Meat

The regulatory system that's supposed to protect us from potentially lethal E.Coli in burgers failed Stephanie Smith ... and is not as safe as we think. (NYT)

Consuming a home-cooked burger containing a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria nearly took the life of a young dancer, Stephanie Smith, and left her brain damaged and paralyzed. Her tragic story provides the New York Times an entrée into the loosely regulated meat packing industry, where insufficient safety precautions have led to a surge in food poisoning cases in the past three years.

The camera never shies from suspected sources of bacterial meat contamination, including filthy cattle and disgusting intestinal offal. In Smith’s case, records showed that giant food producer Cargill had purchased meat from many sources, making it especially difficult to spot the few cells of E. coli it takes to sicken a person. Even Costco, whose testing practices are far better than most companies, cannot claim that 100 percent of its ground meat is safe.

By focusing on the numerous stops along the trail, from stockyards to your dinner plate, this investigative video provides a clear explanation of what can, and has, gone terribly wrong with our food regulatory systems. By bookending the story with one woman’s heartbreaking consequences of unwittingly eating an E.coli-infested hamburger, it makes a scientific story personal — and frightening.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 9:16

By Gabe Johnson & Michael Moss

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