I just read this quote from the Wall Street Journal…
“A growing number of cattle arriving for slaughter at U.S. meatpacking plants have recently shown unusual signs of distress. Some walked stiffly, while others had trouble moving or simply lay down, their tongues hanging from their mouths. A few even sat down in strange positions, looking more like dogs than cows.”
I’m fine with folks wanting to know the facts about Zilmax but to take an emotional swing at this is wrong. Then they tied Temple Grandin into this by having her quote so closely tied to it.
We, the folks in this industry, care a ton about the way our cattle are handled and treated. Thats why it bothers me to much to have a writer from the WSJ write about something they have no clue about, just to drive their viewership.
That bothers me, we’re doing our best to continue to get better at providing the best red meat we can. Let’s all be thankful for it.
Having the media take up an issue that they have no concept of is nothing new. Unfortunately, reporting based on researched facts is an increasingly rare occurrence and puts the American people in a position where they can believe nothing that they see in print, or on the computer or hear on TV and radio. It is ONLY about viewership and the financial benefit it produces or promoting some type of an agenda. The anti-farming, anti-meat, animal rights, etc. agendas are significant and deeply entrenched in the media. Anything even remotely related to these topics will gain attention by the media because it draws in viewership.
That said, lets discuss what these good folks at the WSJ as well as others who have weighed in on the Zilmax/Beta-agonist (BA) feeding do not know or are choosing to ignore:
1) BA’s are not vaccines, antibiotics or hormones. They are widely used chemical compounds (other food animal species, companion animals, humans) that, when fed to cattle, help reroute specific nutrients from the development and deposition of fat tissue to lean (protein/muscle). They essentially help produce a leaner meat product – something the consuming public has called for. Repeatedly. They also help produce a larger carcass more efficiently meaning that it helps keep the production costs down AND it help the meat supply. As most of us are aware the meat supply in the US has been challenged due to lowered numbers of cattle.
2) There is no scientific data that indicates that BA’s truly create the mobility problems Tysons and others in the industry are concerned over. The big issue here is that this is a subjective, unsubstantiated, unjustified problem that others in the media have chosen to pick up and sensationalize. In other words, as my momma used to say, they don’t have a dog in the fight and really need to be quiet and go away.
3) Companies such as Tyson’s have become SO sensitive to the perceived treat of adverse public opinion (and the potential effects on sales) that their “knee-jerk” reactions will just about throw their entire legs out of joint. Another example of something of this nature are all the companies that bailed on Paula Deen without adequate evidence and even before the case was settled. These companies are so concerned about political correctness that it causes them to make decisions that really make no sense and that are ultimately harmful to the industry and market.
4) Stories such as that in the WSJ take advantage of quotes by experts in various fields and have no problem taking a statement or quote out of context in order to serve their purposes. Those folks in position to be quoted must be extremely careful of the statements they make. Even then, the likelihood of being misquoted is good.
So the point here is that the beef industry has an issue that has to be addressed unnecessarily and that there is another thing for a poorly informed consuming public to have to process when making food choices.
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