"What's" the Beef? The problem is with the law, not just the product

Forget, for a moment, the John Walker Lindh's and Timothy McVeigh's of the world. This article is not about that kind of domestic terrorist. Rather, it's about those individuals who make a career out of looking the other way when it comes to the poisoning of their fellow citizens on a daily basis. I'm talking about the lobbyists for the chemical and processing industries, the politicians taking their money, and, ultimately, the ones in federal, state, and local government whose job it is to make sure this kind of garbage doesn't reach our dinner tables.

Take, for instance, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's recent purchase of seven million pounds of "Pink Slime" -- the ammonia-treated beef byproduct consisting mostly of connective cow tissue (barf), and deemed a "bad idea" by the likes of McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell. This stuff was deemed bad enough to be dropped by the food versions of Gordon Gekko, yet the powers-that-be are saying there's nothing wrong with putting ammonia into cow tissue and serving it to children. Granted, celeb chef Jamie Oliver played a big part in its "outing," but the "slime" was exposed for what it really is. Literally, garbage . Nonetheless, this junk is now well on its way to becoming a key ingredient in your child's school lunch.(Apparently, a petition has begun circulating among parents, nationwide, which has gathered over 200k signatures in just three days, but it remains to be seen if the feds will listen.)

The problem with "Pink Slime" - and any other questionable product which raises concerns regarding the risk to your, or your child's, health, is not the product itself, but the laws governing these products. The statement being repeated over and over by the USDA, as well as the Beef industry, claim the "meat" - for lack of a better word - is "safe." Safe according to whom? the U.S. Meat Council? What they fail to realize is, just because there's no immediate threat of bacteria to make your kid sick tomorrow, or the next day, it doesn't mean that the chemicals being consumed now won't lead to all kinds of wonderful ailments ten or twenty years down the line (God only knows what those of us who went to school in the '70s and '80s were consuming -- probably television parts). The capper is, scientists say, even after this "mystery meat" is treated with this possible carcinogen, the meat's still believed to be susceptible to e. coli and salmonella, anyway. And, lest we forget, this stuff has almost no nutritional value at all!

It's no secret, when talking about food, we, as a nation, have been slowly killing each other for decades with the products that our supermarkets and fast food chains happily stock en masse, and which may contain any number of unpronounceable ingredients, usually ending, ironically enough, in "a-t-e." Yet, even though the Internet has leveled the playing field tremendously when it comes to protesting these types of actions before they take effect, or even forcing them, in some cases, to reverse direction, it's still "business-as-usual" for our government. Currently, there are no laws that prevent the food we eat from being treated with ammonia, and other potentially harmful chemicals. And, one could probably say, with a certain degree of accuracy, the laws that are currently on the books which govern the processing and quality of the food we buy, could due with a major overhaul.

There are plenty of "Laws that mean nothing" when it comes to our protection. Case in point, the ones that govern New York City's drinking water. When traces of dozens of pharmaceuticals and pesticides were found in the city's reservoirs, the Department of Environmental Protection maintained there was no danger -- as "...The water met the highest standards allowed by law." The problem was, nowhere in the law did it require limiting the levels of pharmaceuticals of any kind. So, technically, they were right. These pharmaceuticals were also found in about a half dozen other metropolitan cities, as well.

And, it just gets worse. The FDA, the organization that's supposed to protect us from eating things that will cause our babies to be born with three heads, doesn't even require labeling products treated with ammonia and other household cleaning products. Nor will they require labels when they allow salmon to be injected with human growth hormones. Add to that, Obama quietly appointing a former Monsanto CEO to head its Food Safety division, and you can easily see we're being attacked on all sides. (Although, the hormones-in-salmon thing looks like it could be good, as one salmon reportedly hit 61 home runs.)

Unfortunately, as a society, we don't have each other's backs. We're simply not honest with each other when it comes to the risks surrounding the foods we eat and the chemicals we use to make them. It matters not what these guardians of our health say, because, when ya get right down to it, no matter how many tests they conduct, we DON'T know what the risks are. We DON'T know what type of diseases or complications consuming ammonia, or drinking trace amounts of insecticide, will ultimately cause. But, you could probably assume, it wouldn't improve one's health. So, why must we always say, "Don't worry. It's probably fine," when it comes to the health and well-being of our children, as well as ourselves? Why not err on the other side? Why not take the position, "We're not going to allow this until we know -- for certain -- that it's completely safe? And, if we don't know, then we need to err on the side of the people's health." The answer's obvious: money. It takes money to change policy. It takes money to overhaul an industry. And these industries pay better than the environmental groups fighting them. Perhaps, next time you hear someone ask, "Where's the beef?," you should tell them the correct term is, " What's the beef?"