Make Safe, Healthy Meat Choices for You & Your Kids!

Make Safe, Healthy Meat Choices for You & Your Kids!

January 22, 2023

Meat and poultry can be part of a healthy well-balanced diet. They are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients. However, these foods can also contain varying levels of toxic pollutants, including dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), flame retardants, and arsenic. If your diet is largely based on meats, it’s time to start cutting back, and make safe and healthy choices to protect your kids.

Here are some facts about meat and poultry:

* Meat and dairy products contain animal fat and, therefore, can contain higher levels of certain toxic chemicals that accumulate in fat, like dioxins, brominated flame retardants and PCBs. Besides being “fat - friendly,” these chemicals persist in the environment and in living tissues (which means they’ll persist in YOU after you eat them).

* Daily meat consumption could put you at increased risk for a variety of cancers, according to U.S. government health researchers. The more red meat and processed meat you eat, the greater your risk.

* According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy at least 70 percent of conventionally raised broiler chickens in the U.S. are fed arsenic as a component of their food. The most common additive is roxarsone, an “organic” form of arsenic, once thought medically benign. Once ingested by animals, however, roxarsone can degrade into cancer-causing inorganic forms of arsenic within the animal’s digestive tract and in animal waste. Roxarsone is FDA-approved for growth promotion, feed efficiency and “improved pigmentation” of meat. Significantly, the 27 countries of the European Union have never approved this practice as safe.

Reduce your family’s exposure and protect your kids by choosing safe and healthy meats:

1. Select lean meat cuts and cut off visible fat before cooking. Use lower-fat cooking methods including broiling, grilling, roasting or pressure-cooking (cooking and preparation methods can reduce dioxin levels by up to half.)

2. Look for meats raised without synthetic hormones. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits the use of hormones in the raising of hogs or poultry in the United States. Therefore, there’s no need to shell out extra money for pork and poultry products that carry the “no hormones administered.” However, the USDA does allow the use of a number of hormones on beef. Beef that is labeled as “no hormones administered” is considered to be free from any added hormones over the lifetime of the animal and therefore does imply that the manufacturer has gone beyond USDA regulations for conventional meat production. Use of the term “hormone free” is considered “unapprovable” by USDA on any meat products.

3. Buy organic. Try to buy certified organic pork, beef and poultry from animals raised without use of antibiotics, genetic engineering, irradiation, sewage sludge and artificial ingredients.

4. Look for grass-fed beef. Beef from grass-fed cattle is leaner, lower in fat and calories, while higher in vitamin E16 and antioxidants than beef from cattle raised on a corn diet. It is also lower in saturated fats and higher in omega-3 fats. One study showed eating grass-fed beef helped reduce “bad” cholesterol and increase “good” cholesterol. Cattle raised on pasture rather than on corn-based diets also may be less susceptible to contamination with E. coli and other disease-causing bacteria.

5. Eat less!The easiest and most affordable way to reduce your exposure to the contaminants that may be in meat and poultry is to eat less of it. Try making some of your meals meat-free and when you do eat meat, try smaller portions.