Good morning! Thinking you might have a burger for lunch? Probably not after reading the Sunday Times story of 22-year-old Stephanie Smith, who got bloody diarrhea, seizure, a coma, and paralyzed from E. coli traced to a hamburger her mother made for her from a pack of frozen “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties” from Cargill, which understandably declined the Times‘ requests for an interview.
“Eating ground beef is still a gamble,” the Times warns. Patties like the one that sickened Smith are made from meat from as far away as Uruguay, we learn; they’re sometimes treated with ammonia to kill bacteria. Some companies that market burger patties claim that big slaughterhouses won’t sell to them if they find out they’re double-checking their products for E. coli, and the forgiving do-it-yourself inspection standards of the USDA have been an open scandal for years. And the Times‘ tests showed E. coli living on a cutting board even after it had been washed with soap and water.
As you might imagine, Vegan.com sees an obvious solution: “This article is bound to give hundreds of thousands of omnivores misgivings about ever eating beef again.” Even the non-vegetarian Marla’s Foodblog says it’s “Time to give up pre-ground beef.” And to think, once upon a time we ate steak tartare without a second thought. Well, modern life’s a trade-off; you won’t get polio, but a lunch that satisfied your grandpa might paralyze you.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 5, 2009