04 Jan Environment Plays Critical Role In Determining Meat Purity, Safety In Beef
Environment may be the most important factor in determining meat purity and safety in beef. Nearly 100% of the beef sold through grocery stores are finished in feed lots, most of which are in the western United States.
Feed lot confinement consists of crowding large numbers of cattle mixed from all over the country on concrete slabs with limited overhead cover. This mixing, places animals that may not have been properly vaccinated with every other animal. Also shipping may stress perfectly healthy cattle reducing the natural immune system. Finally, regional viruses and bacteria are integrated once cattle come together in a feed lot. The reality is a certain percentage of cattle in feed lots are always sick or dying. Feed lots address this simply by administering steroids and antibiotics to all the cattle in confinement.
When I tell this to people, some say, “Well that’s not true for ‘this’ grocery store or ‘that’ high-end restaurant. They get their meat from another source.” That simply is not true! A store or restaurant may buy higher quality cuts of beef, that is it may grade higher in the eyes of the USDA grader, but that grading is done at the meat processing facility after the beef has been through the feedlot.
A few years ago, an “all-natural” program existed throughout U.S. stockyards and brokers. Producers were paid a premium to not implant steroids into feeder cattle. Noche Linda Farms used to sell steers through this program. Sadly, “all natural” effectively doesn’t exist anymore. Ranchers may choose to not add steroids to their cattle but the feed lot will once they arrive.
At Noche Linda Farms, all our cattle spend their entire life on our farm. They are turned out on pasture and given our special blend of local corn, dried molasses, and whiskey distillers to add marbling and flavor. Preventive antibiotic treatments are simply not needed because our cattle avoid shipping, confinement, and mixing with unknown animals.