State University of New York Institute of Technology
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E. Coli, Food Security, and the Ethics of Meat Production

The Manitoban, earlier in 2012, published an article entitled E. coli, food security, and the ethics of meat production. It’s authors Julie Guard and Olivier Berreville give us an inside look to some of the more disturbing sides to international food processing and it’s harsh effects both physically as well as psychologically to the animals involved in such practices. The article also calls into question the working conditions and also brings light to the role the United Food and Commercial Workers Union plays in fighting for the rights of migrant workers.  The articles main focus is drawn to the largest meat recall in Canada’s history.  The discovery of the E. coli virus prompted a massive government recall not only in all 10 providences of Canada but included 41 American States. The recall of over 1500 meat products has raised serious questions of food safety amongst critics, many of whom question the 18 days it took the Federal government to issue a recall.  The article shines a light on a hope to reform such practices to prevent further issues of this nature.


In my review of Guard and Berreville’s most shocking and disturbing piece I can not help but question the financial motivation of both big business and the Government to which it is so closely tied.  I do believe it is the cost cutting efforts of the food industry by hiring the massive number of temporary foreign workers paired with the poor conditions in which the animals are essentially “stored” for processing that caused this crisis.   There are definite ties to the psychological well being of the animals, as stated in the article, that in my opinion aid to the potential for disease.  Being kept in such close quarters will only enhance the opportunity for disease to travel at a more rapid and destructive rate.  I believe it is time we call for a reform in guidelines emphasizing stricter sanitation as well as work force regulations.  The food industry needs to take responsibility when producing a product essential for human survival, yet constructed through a process the general public has little to no knowledge of.  Imagine seeing the inside of one of these factories as portrayed in the article. Imagine having your Thursday night family diner in the conditioned described.  The harsh truth is you essentially are.  Every time you enter the supermarket and mindlessly purchase a meat product, unknown it’s origins, you are at risk.  Without further sanctions and great reform in this industry it is only a matter of time before this happens again.

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