Trashing Cows: Tyson Recalls Ground Beef


Due to harmful bacteria that slipped into some part of a Tyson processing plantís operations, ground meat from more than 331 cows will end up in the garbage. The company is recalling 131,300 pounds of ground beef after Ohio Department of Health inspectors found E. coli O157:H7 in a sample.

The figure of 331 trashed cows is based on an industry average of 596 pounds of red meat and trim left after a cow is slaughtered and unusable bits are cut away. Subtract 27 pounds of variety meat (tongue, heart, liver, tripe, brains, and sweetbread). Then take off another 146 pounds of fat, bone and miscellaneous loss. That leaves approximately 396 pounds of meat per cow. Divide 131,300 by 396, and that gives 331.57 cows.

That is an inexact figure, of course. Only the ground beef is being thrown out. The organ meats were sold separately. The hide likely went off to a tanner. Some of the meat was eaten and made four siblings in Butler County, Ohio, sick. Two children needed medical attention. The 9-year-old ended up in the hospital for 10 days.†That led to the recall.

The family purchased the ground beef from a Kroger supermarket so all meat with the same code is being recalled. Full details are on the Tyson Web site.

The Real Cost of a Recall

Discarding 131,300 pounds of meat sounds minor compared to some earlier recalls, but the real cost is more than anonymous packages in a supermarket. Live cattle were removed from pastures, transported in cattle liners, crowded into manure-covered feedlots, fattened on antibiotic-laced grain (for which their four stomachs were not designed), then subjected to the terror of the slaughterhouse.

When the USDA assesses the average cost of production, they include: pasture (owned or rented), public grazing land (which belongs to all taxpayers), hay (and all associated costs to harvest and/or buy it), machinery (purchase, fuel, supplies, repairs), veterinary and medicine, marketing, holding facilities, feed storage facilities, tractors, vehicles, equipment, breeding animals, taxes and insurance. Add pay for farm owners and any employees along the production cycle. Don’t forget the cost of transportation, feedlot fattening, slaughtering, butchering, packaging, transporting again, and selling.

Whatever percentage of each of these can be attributed to those 331 cows, it was wasted. Energy and resources were trashed, as they are every time meat is recalled.

So are the animals, whose lives count for nothing when their meat is discarded. Somehow that gets lost when the recall focuses only on so many pounds of ground beef or ground turkey. On the other hand, the real cost gets lost long before they end up as contaminated meat.

Related Care2 Stories

Drug-Resistant Salmonella in Ground Turkey

Cargill Recalls Ground Turkey, Again

E. Coli Scare Prompts Beef Recall

First Photo from Jon Eben Field, Second Photo from Alex Proimos via Flickr Creative Commons


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Kim Janik
Kim Janik5 years ago

Tyson sucks!

Chris P.
Chris P7 years ago

Yes. I was in the catering business and processed foods are not healthy for us, throw them all in the trash bins.

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

Factory Farming. GMO Produce. Fish Farms. All gross. All should go back to natural. Then we would have real food to eat. The junk that gets put into stuff like this is terrible. People are getting sick and dying because we pump hormones & antibiotics into animals, and modify everything. If nature wanted it that way, we'd have it.

sandra m.
Past Member 7 years ago


Mary B.
Mary B7 years ago

Contaminated meat. Contaminated fruits and vegatables. Bad drugs. Unproven alturnative medicine. Millions being spent on politcal campaigns. Not enough money for safty net programs.People dieing all over the place, an explodeing population.
You'd think that sooner or later people would figure out that there are way more than 2 sides to every issue. There are multiple facets. Life is more a buffet than a carved in stone reality.The human race has been around for thousands of years, ingesting every manner of bad/good stuff, and I don't see much evidence of a massive die off, except in certain areas. I hate waste like this because of a small sample. Certainly we can invent some simple way to test our food as we bring it into our homes to insure it is not contaminated with stuff we would prefer not to ingest, so that not so much has to be trashed because of one limited batch.

Andrea Turek
andera Turek7 years ago

why ?

Carole R.
Carole R7 years ago

It seems recalls on food seem to happen. This is ground beef, today it is canalopes. It's too bad we can't trust our food sources so we need to keep on top of it.

clara H.
Clara Hamill7 years ago

Why are the vegans trying to push their diet on us? Yes there is meat recalled but this is factory farms not all meat is contaminated oh you forgot about that and the fact about melons being recalled and all the veg recalls. Anything to try to make a point. The article was fine it didn't even get into it.

Jillian B.
Jillian B7 years ago

I've been really enjoying Boca Burgers and once in awhile really want the original deal. Articles like this are convincing me I need to keep loving my Boca Burgers and Morning Star Grillers!!!!!!!!!!!! :)