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Is McDonalds Serving you South American Beef?

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The email in my inbox carried bold headlines: Be American, Buy American! If nothing else, it got my attention. The child of a union pipefitter, I was trained from a very young age to "look for the union label" on everything we purchased - and it went without question that purchases were only of American-made products.

According to the email, McDonald's, that bastion of American cuisine, is buying meat from South America. Written by a self-identified "cattle producer," the email states that "they are looking to save money at our expense. The sad thing of it is that the people of the U.S.A. are the ones who made McDonalds successful in the first place, but we are not good enough to purchase beef from."

If that type of callous indifference to the American cattleman isn't enough, the email goes on to suggest, "the problem is that South Americans aren't under the same regulations as beef producers and the regulations they have are loosely controlled." Allowed in South America, it states, are the practice of pesticide spraying on pastures (leaving residues n beef), and the use of "various hormones and growth regulators."

Finally, patriotism is thrown into the mix. "American ranchers raise the highest quality beef in the world and this is what Americans deserve to eat."

You agree? The email writer suggests everyone boycott McDonalds until "they see the light." After all, "everything is not always about the bottom line, and when it comes to jeopardizing my family's health, that is where I draw the line."

For myself, I try to draw the line at truth, so the first thing I do when I get an email like this is look it up on David Emery's website. Surprisingly enough, here's what he has to say about this email.

"The grain of truth in this alarmist email is that McDonald's has, indeed, announced it is testing imported beef in a small percentage of U.S. restaurants."

Ready to boycott? Want a few more facts first? Well, try this one. "The meat in question is produced in New Zealand and Australia, not South America." Hmm. Well, maybe they're just as lax about the safety of their meat as this email says South America is, so what's a  little mistaken country identification? Boycott, right?

Well… truth is, "Americans already consume roughly 1.5 million tons of imported beef per year, much of it from Australia and New Zealand. In fact, as of right now, the United States imports more beef than any other country in the world. If foreign beef per se really does constitute a serious health threat to American consumers, McDonalds tentative foray into the market would seem to be the least of our worries."

Oh, boy. Guess we're gonna have to boycott all beef then. No more steaks on the barbeque… no more beef stew… no more Sunday pot roast. But wait. My friends, Steve and Marguerite gave me a quarter of a cow for my birthday last year - good old, Cocolalla born, bred and fed beef. Guess I can have that pot roast after all.

But don't waste a good boycott when you've got one. Why not really make a difference and, when you go out for a quick meal, try patronizing some of our local burger places - you know, the ones where the owner is constantly donating to your kids' sports team. Go ahead and listen to at least one message in this email- be American, buy American and, while you're at it, support your community's locally owned businesses.


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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

food, urban legends, beef

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