Skip to main content

American beef shipments have been rejected on foreign soil, and not because of ailments like mad cow disease. Heavy metals and pesticides along with antibiotics have been found in our homegrown heifers.

And since legal limits on these harmful substances have never been established by U.S. regulators, beef that’s actually tested for and found to contain particularly high levels of these chemicals can’t even be pulled off the market, USA Today reports.

Antibiotics are fed to livestock, but heavy metals have a chance to seep into the meat on the way to slaughter, when it’s being processed and even when it’s stocked in grocery stores, according to the paper.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture admits in a report from its Food Safety and Inspection Service that other countries appear to have higher food safety standards regarding beef than we do in America.

“In 2008, for example, Mexican authorities rejected a U.S. beef shipment because its copper levels exceeded Mexican standards … But because there is no U.S. limit, the FSIS had no grounds for blocking the beef's producer from reselling the rejected meat in the United States,” the report notes.

A Wider Problem

Even Americans who think they’re making healthy food choices like avoiding red meat and sticking to organic produce may face health risks from environmental toxins.

Northern California couple Michael Lerner and Sharyle Patton for example, practiced those good food habits but were still found to have more than a hundred different toxins coursing through their bodies just by being exposed to their everyday environments, according to public health advocates at the Environmental Working Group.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Hazardous chemicals aren’t just on the surface of or purposely injected into our food, notes one organic farming advocate in the Chicago Tribune.

Chemicals seep into the ground and the air as well, Maria Rodale, chairwoman of health publisher Rodale, told the Tribune. “What we do to our environment, we are also doing to ourselves,” she said.

“Organic meat, poultry and egg products come from farms that use organic feed without neurotoxins such as arsenic or heavy metals,” notes the EWG, but do we really know what’s in the air and the ground where our food is grown and our meat is raised at any given time?

Reducing Toxicity

Harmful heavy metals are dispersed into the air and in the ground from activities like burning garbage, which at certain temperatures can cause the emission of mercury, lead and cadmium, according to The Star.

And the reason that they’re harmful is that they can’t be effectively eliminated from the body, according to scientific researchers.

Regulators are working on ways to keep our meat safe, according to United Press International.

In the meantime, many Americans, especially women, are avoiding fish that could contain mercury (even though the risks and benefits of this are highly debated), and health experts suggest further ways to keep contaminants at bay.

Until government regulators come up with better food safety standards, nutrition experts suggest staying away from fatty meats and processed packaged foods since pollutants may be concentrated in fat cells, according to