Tag Archives: Consumer Reports

Bacteria Pervasive in Hamburgers

Ground beefThe burger test results are in. Researchers bought enough ground beef to make over 1,800 quarter pounders from markets all over the country. Every single burger, without exception, had potentially disease-causing fecal (yuck!) bacteria in it.

It’s getting really bad out there in the meat world. As if that weren’t bad enough, sixty percent of samples had E- Coli, including the much feared 0157 E-Coli, as well as other toxin-producing bacteria. Several other kinds of bacteria were present as well. For instance, ten percent of samples contained Staph Aureus, bacteria which produces a disease-causing toxin that even the usual cooking won’t destroy.

Even worse, 18% of the burgers had antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Even the sustainably-raised burgers had lesser, but still substantial, amounts. That means that if you get sick from these burgers, when the doctor treats you with one or more kinds of antibiotics to fight them, they won’t work.

Choosing sustainably-raised beef won’t help much. Both conventionally raised or “factory farmed” burgers, and so called sustainably-raised burgers were contaminated with fecal bacteria, although the sustainable beef (such as organic and or grass fed) did have lower, but still considerable, rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The list of reasons behind the bacteria in the burgers is a long one, but it includes unhealthy conditions on the farms, unsavory things in the cow feed such chicken droppings, and even pieces of slaughtered hogs, contamination of the slaughterhouse machinery, inadequate inspection, a too-fast slaughter rate, resulting in stressed workers and inhumane conditions for cows.

Total beef consumption in this country is currently 4.6 billion pounds, and ground beef accounts for half of that. The study was conducted by Consumer Reports, which suggests considering alternate options. We couldn’t agree more. There are so many safer and delicious veggie burgers to try.

Consumer Reports Fails to Give Life-saving Information

Maybe we were just naïve, but when we saw that Consumer Reports magazine was focusing this month’s cover story on “Protecting Your Heart”,  we thought that there would a major emphasis on healthy vegetarian diets, or at the very least prominent mention of this life-saving solution. Alas, there wasn’t a word. Consumer Reports positions itself as a rater of all things that people across the county need or want to know more about.  Given its glaring omission, we thought it just might be high time we gave our rating of this rater.

To be fair, there are a few good points in the article.  They do stress that lifestyle changes are the best prevention, and they do emphasize that some procedures such as angioplasties are not effective in preventing heart attacks, under most circumstances, as a front line treatment. They also point out that “people tend to view a heart doctor as some sort of action hero, and think that the more aggressive, the better.”

However, large-scale studies such as the Framingham Heart Study or The China Study, and the interventional studies such those conducted on heart patients by doctors including Dean Ornish, John McDougall and Caldwell Esselstyn, have clearly shown the significant benefits of a healthy vegetarian diet. The new movie, Forks Over Knives, which emphasizes these benefits, has created quite a stir, and there’s been much talk in the media about the great results former president Bill Clinton has achieved in treating his heart disease on a veg diet. So there really is no excuse for their failure to mention the importance of a vegetarian diet, and we can only give Consumer Reports a failing grade for choosing not to give their readers this lifesaving message. How did Consumer Reports miss the study showing that a veg diet was as powerful at lowering cholesterol as the American Heart Association diet and a statin drug combined? How did Consumer Reports miss the insurance industry study showing that for every dollar spent on switching patients over to a veg-diet centered heart disease program, $5.55 were saved in treatment costs? A healthy vegetarian diet, and especially a healthy vegan diet, is the most powerful tool to protect your heart, and in most cases, may even be the most powerful tool to heal your heart once disease has already set in. 

The article quotes Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, lamenting the failure of most doctors to act on so much of the medical research when it comes to heart disease. He says “It may take years for evidence to trickle down to private practice.” It seems that the same is true of many mass market magazines, such as Consumer Reports.