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Meat You There?

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Nov 6, 2007 2:52PM

It's 10 a.m. in Chicago. Do you know what temperature the meat you are going to eat for lunch was stored at as it made its way to your sandwich? Probably not, says CBS2, which aired an upsetting investigative segment on meat safety violations last night. Among the findings: "spoiled or thawing meat, cross-contamination and a lack of food inspectors to monitor the way it is handled during the shipping or delivery process." Makes us want to go out and buy a BMT from Subway right now!

2007_11_meat1.jpgThere were two primary issues uncovered in the investigation. Meat transported via truck can often sit for hours without being refrigerated, and food inspectors would never know, since the food is at the correct temperature when it arrives at its destination. In one case, meat sat for four hours in a truck on a day when the temperature reached into the 90s. It was then transfered to a new trailer, cooled overnight, and delivered the next day. A USDA report on the incident noted that "black spots" were trimmed off of the meat before it was sold to the public.

The other issue the investigation found was that meat is often transported with produce to save costs. When this happens, the meat can thaw, which causes it to leak meat juices all over the "fresh produce" with which it's sharing container space. The whole situation leaves both a literal and figurative bad taste in our mouth.

CBS showed the footage to Sen. Dick Durbin. "People are so confident that somebody in their government is watching out for their family, and the honest answer is they are not," he told them. "Even one truckload of meat that is not carefully watched can become a lot problems for a lot families. The bottom line is, no one is accepting responsibility." Thank you, Sen. Durbin, for reassuring us that the CBS footage is the exception, and not the rule. Oh wait, no, no you didn't.

A list of vegetarian restaurants in Chicago is available here.

Image via Times Newsweekly.