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photo of cutting meatjoin the discussion: Is America's meat supply safe enough? Are you worried about your next burger?


I am in the cattle business and I have a problem with your focus on the beef industry. I don't have as much a problem with the reports you do pertaining to the cleanliness of packing houses,for this needs to be done.

I have a problem with the fact that I never see an investigation into poultry plants. I would just like to see some balance in your reporting!!!

John Shore
Saluda, S.C.


Because National Meat Association was not interviewed for the "modern meat" segment, we've provided some further information and insight on our website, .

I encourage people who want to know more about the intervention strategies that the industry has implemented to protect food safety and to understand more fully the Supreme Beef decion to click on our "Modern Meat" response page under the What's New header. Thank you.

Jeremy Russell
Director of Communications
National Meat Association

Jeremy Russell
Oakland, California


Will you consider doing a show about the standard of living for cattle, chickens and pigs.

I read John Robbins book "Diet For a New America", which investigated factory farms in the 80's, and I was horrified by the inhumane treatment of animals. I would like to know what the situation is now.

Diane Barr
Sanibel, Florida


I regret that I didn't see the entire show last night, but I did catch the last 10-15 minutes. Based upon the little I saw and judging by some of the comments I've read on this site, I probably could give you an accurate breakdown for the rest of the show.

Once again there is another attack on the meat industry and the use of scare tactics on the public. Was there any mention that the US food system is perhaps the safest in the world and that the beef industry is the safest of all livestock? It is highly inspected and regulated, not only by the government but also from within. Packers go thru extremes to put safe and affordable products on the market and they are improving all the time. I know, I have been in this industry for 13 years and have worked for the two largest packers in the country. Your report made an issue out of steers living amongst their own feces. Hogs and chickens do as well. Because they are lower to the ground, those animals have a greater risk of transferring pathogens than steers do. Not to mention fish which may be the worst of all and is not regulated to the extent beef is.

Once again this sounds like a liberal attack on corporate America, bringing out negative instances but not stressing all the advantages and opportunities that they provide. If you listen to groups like PETA or anyone you may have scared, we either wouldn't eat meat and if we did, only the wealthy would be able to afford it. Forgive me, you probably have something against people who earn money and spend it freely.

I'm not against having safety regulations, but please keep things in perspective. Food safety is the burden from the growers to the packers to the retailers all the way down to the end user. Education and responsibility have to be taken by all. There's nothing wrong with pressuring the industry to maintain and improve standards, some in the industry do it on their own because it makes good business sense, but please be reasonable in your tone. Scaring people and campaigning against those who are trying to make a living in this business hurts not only those in the industry but consumers as well.

Louis Wnek
Belleville, New Jersey


In your story you said that beef cost less than in the '70's. I wonder how that beef dollar was distributed? On the farm? At the local meatlocker? And what is the cost to our air and water quality? Who ultimately pays for that distruction?

We, the supporters of "sustainable" agriculture in Nebraska, know all to well the facts that you presented. Unlike our local media, I am very happy that your producers have the strength to tell it like it is.

Realizing an hour goes quickly, I hope you will do a story telling how consumers can improve their health, protect there environment and add to their local economy by buying beef, chicken, lamb & goat from a local family farmer that raises animals on their natural diet, green grass. The green chlorophyll in the plants is converted by the animals and poultry to Omega 3 fatty acids, like in fish oil. The farmer will be happy to take the animal for processing a the local butcher. Will it be safe? It better be since the farmer and butcher have more at stake then IBP ever will.

To find dozens of family farmers that work 'with' Nature, consumers should contact the sustainable agriculture group in their area. These groups are grassroots, non-profits. The group I belong to was started over 25 years ago--Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society.

PS: I wonder how the feedlot manager would like to spend the rest of his life eating in a restaurant with his manure up to his knees...or a green pasture?

Troy Kash-Brown
Lincoln, NE


Thank you for your program on food safety. As an instructor of Servsafe I am heartened to see there is actually some good news.

Implementation of HACCP does have an impact in the decrease of food borne illness. I will use this information to encourage participants to implement the program in thier facilities. The down side, of course, is that this is still a serious problem and thanks to the forces of greed and globalization we face an uphill battle in protecting the consumer.

Jane Cutting


I thank you for this report. Most local and national networks do not want to buck the political power of either the meat and the dairy industry .

Your report was true and factual. I pray one of your producers will investigate the same horror and cruelity that is taking place in the dairy industry. This is of great concern because the polluted dairy products enter our childrens body almost from birth. Again, thank you

Helen Reddout
Outlook, WA


Frontline's report on the US meat industry tells us that the American Meat Institute wants beef-eaters to apply the same scruples to beef that we apply to sardines, oysters, and clams. After all, when we consume these fruits of the sea, we do not first remove the feces. We squirt on a bit of lemon juice and swallow them whole, sometimes with a wash of cold beer.

If the steer's poop has been irradiated or well cooked along with the muscle tissue and fat, then eating the poop will presumably not harm you. Such is the thinking of our US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. They may even think poop is good for you. As stated by one of the consumer advocates, the Court has boiled or broiled? it all down to do you want to eat steer poop?

Our Congress no doubt agree that poop is good for the American people. They have been feeding it to us since the Republic was founded.

Alvin Hofer
St Petersburg, Florida


I too applaud your piece on 'Modern Meat.' It is vital to expose these issues to the public, without seeming jaded or as possessing an ulterior motive. I believe this episode achieved this.

In no way is this issue a reason to become a vegetarian, or to not support a meat industry. The real issue is the importance of a revision of our current system to ensure not only the consumer's safety, but also the safety and rights of the workers in the slaughterhouses. As Eric Schlosser notes in 'Fast Food Nation,' these locations are perhaps the most dangerous places to work: the workers are under constant pressure to work faster, increasing the likelihood of contamination, and they are rarely supported by their companies when injured.

Shame on us that in this age we act so barbaric to our own who provide such an "American staple" while disguising the problems with sleek marketing of a whole-some product and lobbying. We as consumers need to demand change.

Jennifer Emond
Lowell, MA


Thanks for your show on food quality in the meat industry. Unfortunately, government inspectors don't have complete access to slaughter houses to perform their job properly. It's a mistake that Congress hasn't strengthened the inspection powers of the USDA so that our meat industry is kept to a high quality standard.

Patrick Boyle was the head of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service during the Reagan administration. It shouldn't surprise viewers that his perspective is government only gets in the ways of beef producers trying to make as much money as possible without any concern for quality.

Brian Taylor
Washington, DC


the program did not show the true horror of the treatment of animals -- of pigs in gestation crates where they cannot turn around for months at a time -- of chickens kept in cages in such close quarters -- the inhumane treatment of animals is the real horror. we used to treat animals with some compassion - agribusiness regards animals as cardboard. we need to get a handle on agribusiness - which is out of control. we should outlaw these feedlots. we should require that cattle graze. we should outlaw these "efficient" meat slaughtering factories which employ illegal aliens. they pay these workers little money so that they can abuse them - these companies are responsible for much of the illegal immigration that is taking place in this country. We have many illegalities taking place with the meat industry - none of us have been watching them closely enough.

barb sashaw


"Modern Meat" provides one example of how complex a system we have woven and how risky allowing market forces alone to look out for our health, safety and well being.

I wonder how long it will be before Frontline has a story about how corporations succeed in completely gutting our tort system opening shrinkwrap on hamburger indicates agreeing to "arbitration" to fix those messy food poisening cases.

Now, How do I keep my meager retirement savings from perpetuating this cycle of greed?!? I can choose for now not to eat certain foods that are made or marketed in ways that do not suit me. But is that enough?

Perhaps we need to stop acting like sheep!

Bravo PBS and those that support investigative journalism.

Jeff Doppmann
Seattle, WA


As a former inspector and presently a meat industry quality assurance inspector, I found your program on the "Modern Meat" to be truthful!!! Sad, but dollars replace conscience! I talk to Federal Inspectors that say their hands are tied. I see how the HAASAP program is failing!!!! I see and fight cross contamination often enough to scare anyone!!!

Roger Finch


As a former chef and present day restaurant manager for a major restaurant casual chain, I can talk about food safety from the front lines. I believe we need to toughen up the food safety laws, and disregard the commnets of the meat and food packing industry. There desire is only to save money, not the interest of the guest or the consumer.

As a manager, I have been required to take Serv-Safe tests, along with the knowledge of HAACCP system. It is my responsibility to know and teach this information to my staff, to hold them accountable to follow these standards since the most important responsibility of my profession is to make sure the quality of the food we serve is safe for human consumption. We don't want clean restaurants and packing plants, we want SANITERY operations. There is a huge difference. As a manager, I will always put my responsibility to my guests first, not the bottom line of the operation I work in. Let's toughen up the laws!!

Jon Finley
Napa, CA


I applaud the folks at Frontline for taking on a topic that would raise the ire of a powerful economic group, the livestock industry.

While I realize that there are comparable problems throughout the livestock industry, including milk and egg production, I understand why you could only deal with a limited range of those problems in a one hour program. The livestock industry folks might whine, but you clearly gave the industry spokespeople their opportunity to give their side on the matters you covered.

There are less destructive methods to raise livestock than the factory farms, but these methods wont produce as much meat as factory farming. Consumer demand for cheap and plentiful meat has led to factory farming, squeezing out the traditional family farmers and ranchers.

If consumers reduce their demand for animal products, even if they dont become vegetarians and vegans, and then focus their purchases on local, organic, and humanely certified products, those small farmers and ranchers who work by such standards will stand a chance. Animals with plenty of room dont spread diseases among themselves as much, if they're humanely cared for, their immune systems won't be shut down due to stress, and if you know your local producers, you can see for yourself what their sanitary conditions are.

Tom Crimmins
Ashland, Oregon


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