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Interviews

Patrick Boyle

Patrick Boyle is the CEO of the American Meat Institute, a meat industry trade organization. He says that the levels of disease-causing bacteria in America's meat supply is decreasing, and that there is no evidence that the centralization of the meat industry has given rise to greater risk of large-scale food-borne illness.

Carol Tucker Foreman

Carol Tucker Foreman is the director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer advocacy organization. She believes that the meat supply in America is not safe enough, and that the government should be granted more, not less, authority to shut down meat-production plants.

Daniel Glickman

Dan Glickman was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1995 to 2001 and served 18 years in Congress as a representative from Kansas. Although he believes that America's meat supply is safer than it has ever been, he is concerned that the USDA's power to regulate and inspect meat-production plants has been diminished by a recent court decision.

Bill Haw

Bill Haw is the CEO of Kansas City's National Farms, which operates one of the largest cattle outfits in the country. His office is located in the old Kansas City Stockyard Building, once home to the second-largest cattle-trading and packing center in the world. Here, Haw gives a sweeping overview of the beef industry over the past 50 years, explains why he thinks feedlots are ultimately "humane," and discusses the controversy surrounding the use of antibiotics in cattle.

Dr. Glenn Morris

Glenn Morris is a professor and chair of the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School. He was part of the USDA team that proposed stricter meat and poultry inspection regulations after the E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest in 1993. He believes that the industrialization of meat production has led to a greater chance for the spread of pathogens like E. coli. In this interview, he describes the most common disease-causing bacteria found in food and new techniques for tracking and controlling food-borne illness.

Patsy McKee

Patsy McKee was a USDA inspector in southern California for 15 years. After new food-safety regulations were approved, giving meat-processing plants more power to conduct their own inspections, McKee says that some companies became more aggressive in challenging her authority. She says she was often harassed and was encouraged not to document sanitation problems. Ultimately, she was transferred away from her district in California to a night shift in Cherokee, Iowa. When she refused to go, the USDA fired her. She eventually filed a discrimination suit against the agency, which was settled out of court in 2001. Here, McKee discusses the intimidating environment in which she worked, as well as the sanitation conditions she documented.

Elsa Murano

Elsa Murano is undersecretary of food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversees the policies and programs of the Food Safety Inspection Service. Here, Murano says that HACCP, the new system regulating the inspection of meat and poultry production, has improved the safety of America's meat supply.

Michael Pollan

Pollan, a former editor at Harper's Magazine, is the author of The Botany of Desire and several other books that examine the intersections between science and culture. Here, he talks about his experience as a small-scale rancher and his decision to buy a cow and track its journey through the cattle system for The New York Times Magazine. He also discusses the widespread use of antibiotics in the meat industry, and why he thinks the system is fragile and susceptible to microbes and pathogens.

Eric Schlosser

Schlosser is an award-winning investigative journalist and author of Fast Food Nation, a book about what he calls the "dark side of the all-American meal." Here, Schlosser talks about the conditions inside slaughterhouses and how they may promote the spread of pathogens throughout the meat supply. He says that today, certain fast-food companies -- not federal government agencies -- are the most rigorous testers of meat.

Dr. Robert Tauxe

Robert Tauxe is chief of the food-borne and diarrheal diseases branch of the Centers for Disease Control. He describes the potential for the spread of pathogens inherent in the industrialized production of meat, and how the CDC tries to track and control food-borne illnesses.

David Theno

David Theno is vice president of technical services at Jack in the Box. At the height of the E. coli crisis in 1993, in which 700 people became ill and four children died after eating at Jack in the Box restaurants, the company hired Theno away from his consulting business in Modesto, Calif. He changed the company's entire food-safety program, and some credit him with saving Jack in the Box from dissolution.


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