Consumer Reports Magazine has published an exhaustive report on Beef. You can read the full report here. Its focus is primarily on food safety, animal husbandry, and sustainability. But it covered more than that down to levels of minutia that turned beef into a rather scary, complicated clinical topic that one would never see written the same way regarding spinach.

For instance, its emphasis on bacteria contamination seems to have been overly focused on beef like it’s the bad guy. For that reason I have provided you the opportunity to download the CDC Report titled Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks United States 1998 to 2008 by clicking here. It puts food safety into proper perspective. Even though Consumer Reports stated that grass-fed meats have the best contaminant-free record, the report’s sampling method may not pass proper scientific scrutiny. Through their lack of fairness, they did not show comparisons of food safety issues between beef and other food products such as pork, poultry, vegetables, fruit and so on. Nor did they point out that some of the pathogens they reported on were more likely to occur on picnics and other settings.

To me, the bottom line is that when handled properly, beef is as safe as our most other foods. Knowing how to properly handle and cook meat is important and when it comes to ground beef, cooking to an internal temperature of 160 degrees is sufficient to kill pathogens. In my opinion cooking meat higher than that is actually detrimental in terms of palatability and nutrient retention. I try to avoid cooking steaks to an internal temperature of more than 120 degrees because only the outside of a steak or roast needs to reach 160 degrees. The inside is sterile.

The sustainability comments were more on the mark and they rightfully commended grass-fed practices over growing feeds for animals in feedlots. Their report did properly emphasize that farming itself is the primary unsustainable function because of its disturbance of the soils and the requirements for high inputs. But they failed to mention those same farming issues regarding growing crops for people. So they passed up the opportunity to explain that grass-fed livestock is the most sustainable food source for man.

In terms of animal husbandry they gave high marks to grass-fed cattle for humane treatment, but most cattlemen pride themselves on humane treatment. Not only that, the USDA meat inspectors are adamant about how cattle are handled in slaughter plants. So, discussions of humane treatment usually end up implying that ranchers regularly abuse their livestock. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unfortunately, the authors could not bring themselves to publish research regarding the nutritional differences between grain-fed and grass-fed meats other than to say “Research suggests that beef from cattle on a 100 percent grass-based diet ... may be healthier.” So in that regard they passed up a major opportunity to educate the public beyond food safety, sustainability, and humane treatment.

The report’s emphasis on nice sounding labels (although they despise the “natural” label) also took the consumer’s eye off the ball. The ball is the nutritional characteristics of the foods. Nothing tops that for health and well-being. In that and all other respects, Slanker Grass-Fed and Omega-3 meats are the world’s best.

Ted Slanker

posted September 18, 2015