5 Horrible Facts The Food Industry Doesn't Want You To Know About

From parmesan cheese that contains wood pulp to high levels of mercury in tuna and lets not forget ammonia treated ground beef to retard E. coli. the Facebook pages and to some extent the press do a great job exposing the disgusting and somewhat dangerous practices of the food industry. The problem unfortunately is that the public forgets about the food risk, assuming that reform is in progress and that is just fine for the food industry.

One example of this is the mercury contaminated tuna.  Most people assumed this problem of had been solved since it had widespread coverage. But Time recently wrote “the latest analysis shows that eating fish the way the government recommends is exposing people, especially pregnant women, to unsafe levels of mercury.” 

Two years after the nation was made aware of the gut turning pink slime, its manufacturer Beef Products, Inc. had reopened plants and even filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC and Diane Sawyer!

Here are some hidden-in-plain-sight facts the food industry doesn’t want you to know.

  1. Cancer causing preservatives in meat.

Did you ever wonder why bacon, hot dogs, ham, cold cuts and most other processed and cured meats taste salty, have a pink appearance and have an extremely long shelf life, compared to fresh meat? Because food processors use preservatives nitrite and nitrate which produce the pink color, delay bacterial growth and rancid taste and smell and create that cured or smoked meat flavor.

Researchers found out in the 1970s that these preservatives become "nitrosamines" in the body these compounds are known carcinogens. Following a 2008 American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund report discovered that by eating just one hot dog a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%, there have been calls to ban such processed meat, especially in schools. Last year, the World Health Organization re-exposed  this controversy when it declared processed meats Group 1 carcinogens, the highest risk category that exists. WHO researchers, that analyzed 800 studies, defined processed meat as “anything transformed to improve its flavor or preserve it, including sausages, beef jerky and anything smoked,” The Boston Globe reported. Researchers identified links from processed meats to various cancers.

Scientific articles also link nitrosamines to other health problems such as stroke, coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. The American Cancer Society tells people not to consume them. Still, the industry-influenced USDA remains sceptic about the dangers of nitrosamines in its new Dietary Guidelines rolled out earlier this year. 

"We are pretty disappointed the report doesn't recommend limiting red and processed meat because of the link to cancer," said Katie McMahon of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

2. Shrimp are a health disaster waiting to happen.

Most people are not aware that the majority of shrimp sold in the U.S. are neither domestic nor wild-caught. They are imported from countries like Thailand, India and Indonesia where they are "farmed" in crowded, filthy pools with antibiotics, disinfectants and parasiticides that are banned from food production in U.S. Most of these shrimp have their eyes removed before being raised in pools. In most cases these pools are so dense and dirty that many die.

The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of such imported shrimp for human consumption, yet over 96% of shipments are not opened or even checked when they arrive the U.S. Instead, exporters' identities are stored in the FDA Automated Commercial System (ACS) system and only if a country or company has had prior problems will it be subjected to inspections. Even then, the these inspections may only be a look at documents or a basic visual inspection, there are no lab tests for dangerous substances. FDA inspectors admit that blocked exporters can “transship” their products from another country to pull the wool over the inspectors eyes. With this information can anybody be surprised that banned drugs and mislabeled products including pet shrimp find their way to our dinner tables?

Like so many food products that are bad for consumers, intensively farmed shrimp also causes a great deal of harm the environment, workers and animals. A recent, award-winning Associated Press series exposed slave labor used in the commercial seafood industry in countries that included Indonesia and Thailand and the actual incarceration of captive workers in Myanmar in cages. U.S. officials and human rights activists call on Americans to “stop buying fish and shrimp tied to supply chains in Thailand.” Intensive shrimp farming also harms sensitive mangrove areas. 

3. Antibiotic use in livestock is becoming move widespread.

By now, most conscientious eaters know that the food industry uses large amounts of antibiotics to make animals gain weight with less feed therefore feeling the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria and infections. Antibiotics are also used to prevent  animal illness in the extremely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of “factory farms.” Many people are unaware that the food industry has repeatedly stopped government attempts to regulate and prohibit antibiotic use, and that Big Pharma and the food industry, not the government, actually call the shots. In 2008, the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries stormed Capitol Hill over the proposal to prohibit the use of Cefzil and Keflex (important human drugs called cephalosporins), claiming they could not “farm” without the drugs. Guess what? They won.

In 2014, the FDA tried regulation again, proposing a voluntary plan in which drug makers would agree to remove the use of “growth promotion and feed efficiency” on antibiotic labels and the drugs would only be used to prevent disease. Did the government really think that Big Pharma and Big Meat would undercut their own profits and comply with these regulations?

Soon after the announcement, Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, told me it was likely Big Pharma would simply replace “growth production" with "disease prevention" on the labels and continue the routine antibiotic use. Cattle producers could continue to feed grain instead of grass to animals even though it produces more liver abscesses, then treating them with the antibiotic Tylosin to "prevent disease," he told me.
So far, according to the FDA’s 2014 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, domestic sales and distribution of livestock cephalosporins increased by 57% between 2009 through 2014, antibiotics like clindamycin by 150 percent and antibiotics like gentamicin by 36 percent. Thanks for nothing, FDA.

4. Mad cow disease is still here

There is probably no disease The food industry fears as much as “mad cow,” an incurable, fatal and highly contagious disease transmitted by particles called prions that are not killed by heat, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde or even radiation. They are said to remain infectious in ground soil for many years.

Within 24 hours of discovery of the USDA’s first mad cow in 2003, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, and 90 other countries banned U.S. beef—wiping out 98% of the $3 billion overseas market for beef.

Subsequent mad cow scares have been the main cause of the biggest beef recall in U.S. history, terrified medical patients (when news of a patient with a related human brain disorder, CJD, in a hospital surfaced) and destroyed futures markets in minutes. Questions about how cows get the disease are driving the panic, whether the feed is deemed safe and where herd mates and offspring are too. But in recent years, The food industry has mitigated the problem by terming new mad cow cases "atypical"—meaning they “just happen.” Since the pathogenesis is spontaneous, the feed sources and herd mates no longer have to be traced and this story will soon drop from the news and consumers minds.

Yet the disease is far from gone. Last year, a likely new case of mad cow turned up in Ireland and both Norway and Canada reported “atypical” cases. This month a suspected mad cow was discovered in France. Last year, two people died from the mad cow-related version of CJD in Italy and Tampa had two cases of CJD whose origins could not be determined.

5. Bird flu and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus are worse than reported.

Do you remember the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreak in 2013 or the bird flu epidemic of 2015? Chances are no, because The food industry managed to stop the public from seeing dumpsters full of the dead livestock lest people ask what is happening on factory farms, why are so many animals sick? What drugs they are taking and why are we eating products from sick animals. News reports are instead focused on farmers' financial losses, price increases for products and the needs of  the farmers to “restock."

At least 1/10 of U.S. pigs died in 2013 and 2014 from PEDv, though The food industry assures food consumers the disease is unlikely to infect humans. Nearly 50 million flu-ridden chickens and turkeys died in 2015, "piled up in dumpsters, attracting flies and emitting a stench. Only recently has the disposal crisis abated, with the help of "round-the-clock incinerators and crews in hazmat suits," reported Fortune. 

While egg layers were dosed with carbon monoxide, floor-reared turkeys and broiler chickens were herded into an enclosed area and were suffocated with a propylene glycol foam.

Neither of the outbreaks are gone. In January, the bird flu was back at an Indiana turkey farm where all the birds were killed and their carcasses destroyed. 

Pork producers have said PEDv will likely never be wiped out in the U.S. and other diseases are an imminent problem. 

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