What Consumer Reports Wants to Tell Us About Meat Consumption

An article by Consumer Reports this week shows again, how complex scientific information can be misrepresented in order to influence the reader’s beliefs about the meat industry. ( Drovers )

I often go to the end of an article and read the last paragraph first. Sometimes, that is all I need to know – the conclusion. In the case of this week’s much discussed article in Consumer Reports, “Are Banned Drugs in Your Meat?,” going to the end of the article would have saved me lots of time! But, at any rate, there was plenty of fodder for an article to express my opinion. Meat industry groups including NCBA immediately addressed the article and how the author inappropriately used information from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

One could easily write an exhaustive article on how complex scientific information is presented in order to influence the reader’s beliefs about the meat industry. But there are a couple of statements toward the end of the article that bring to light the true objective of this article. We see these same statements time and time again.

Quoting the article: “CR’s food safety experts don’t think that the concerns raised in this investigation mean you should give up or necessarily cut back on meat. The findings are too uncertain and the potential risks still unknown.”

The next paragraph states: “But research suggests that many Americans eat more meat than recommended for good health and that reducing meat consumption can be better for the environment. The potential problems identified here may be enough for some to consider eating less meat.”

Following that statement: “the data CR analyzed are not robust enough to say whether particular companies are more likely than others to have drug residue in meat.”

Those quoted statements are all you need to know what this article in Consumer Reports was all about. You don’t even need to read all of the “conclusions” of the investigative reporting. The article goes from informing consumers about how lax USDA-FSIS is with testing and how this may imperil their health and/or lives to eating meat is bad for the environment! That will give you confidence in Consumer Reports!

Both U.S. and global consumer demand for beef is strong with average U.S. retail beef prices through the end of July even with a year ago in the face of 4% more beef production. Consumers like beef and when incomes rise, consumption increases and the U.S. has the most efficient, sustainable production in the world. Hmm...maybe they aren’t reading Consumer Reports! I know I don’t need Consumer Reports second-guessing USDA-FSIS to tell me that reducing meat consumption might be better for my health and it can be better for the environment!      

Submitted by Janet on Tue, 09/04/2018 - 11:19

I grew up on a farm and 1 pig, 1 hind quarter of beef, plus about 50 chickens went into our family freezer every year. My mom always considered 1 lb of boneless meat appropriate for a family of 4--about 3 oz each for me, my sister, and her, leaving about 6 oz for my hardworking dad. We also ate plenty of vegetables, grains, dairy and eggs--very little fish due to living in Iowa. While my folks both died young--in their mid 70s of cancer--likely the result of herbicides and pesticides--my greatgrandparents, grandparents and their sibs all lived into their 90s on a similar diet. DH and I have already passed my parents' life span without diagnosis of imminent death, eating a similar diet to that I with which I was raised.

While most of us urban dwellers eat more meat and do less physical labor, I have yet to see proof that a balanced diet including significant reliance on animal protein is particularly harmful.