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TV Chef Jamie Oliver Should Be Served A Slice Of Humble Pie

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British chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver gets a dose of his own medicine after slamming food safety practices in the U.S.

The old saying, “What goes around comes around,” certainly holds true for British food blogger Jamie Oliver. Oliver is good at using sensationalism to gain notoriety. He’s slammed McDonald’s cheeseburgers, calling them “unfit for human consumption.” He’s also boosted his career by slinging mud when BPI’s lean finely textured beef was under attack a few years ago, helping to spread the term “pink slime” to create an ugly, inaccurate image regarding the safety of America’s beef supply.

While such sensationalistic characterizations may have gained Oliver more exposure, according to news reports, his credibility is in question as a result of his own food safety practices. It appears Oliver’s flagship butcher shop has been closed by public health officials after poor hygiene conditions -- including mouse droppings, mold and dirty equipment -- were found in one of his butcher shops.

 

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According to Matthew Weaver for theguardian.com, “Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group has confirmed it closed its flagship butcher's shop in London after public health officers found poor hygiene conditions. When Corporation of London inspectors called at the TV chef's Barbecoa butcher's in January, they found a ‘heavy presence’ of mouse droppings, mold on carcasses, and dirty equipment. The public health officers gave the butcher's a score of one out of five.

“Inspectors found several gourmet meat products that were past their use-by dates. They included wagyu beef, onglet and lomo de cana – Spanish cured pork loins – according to the full copy of the inspectors' report. The inspectors also noted dirty fridge door handles, poor lighting, inadequate staff washing facilities and damaged flooring."

Perhaps Oliver should practice what he preaches when it comes to food safety. I’m confident that America’s beef supply is safe and healthy for consumers to enjoy, without fear or guilt. It’s just too bad folks like Oliver try to burnish their reputations by sensationalism and slinging mud.

What do you think about Oliver’s public health situation? Do you think his previous claims have any merit? How can we counteract his attacks against the beef industry? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 22

shaun evertson (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

A delightful bit of irony here but I'm not going to crow too loudly -- there's no reason to believe Oliver is directly to blame and the British bureaucracy is so inept that you can't really take this report at face value. Oliver did a huge disservice to his "passion" by militantly attacking people in the U.S. in order to curry idolatry and favor. He'll own those actions for the rest of his life and will never be held in much real esteem. So be it.

tmvan (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

It is disgusting and unethical for celebrities in general to utilize false information or half truths to further their own careers. And there is EVERY reason to believe Oliver is directly to blame and be held responsible for his own business practices. I don't believe people will remember for very long or even tie him to the event in the future. Lots of short memories for adoring public.

wynne (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Jamie Oliver is a salesman of the worst kind. He has gained fame by being loud and giving incorrect information to increase his air time. He has climbed to top of the heap to be a direct target and has no one to blame but himself.. Be careful who you step on as you gain fame because they will be the individuals that will help you down the ladder to oblivion. That first step down is a large step and each one after is larger on the way to the bottom.

Amy Patrick (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Obviously people with little or no knowledge get way too much press.

W.E. (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Name-calling and blame never work as well as real education when making arguments. That goes for both sides. At least Jamie Oliver is a fan of red meat. It could be worse. His main objections that I have heard pertain to the methods of some in the beef industry who place profits above the safety and well-being of consumers, and school-age children in particular. As for LFTB, it really does look like pink slime: great for making high quality of pet food--a much better use for it than putting it in school lunches to feed America's children.

on May 21, 2014

This is interesting. In your first sentence you say name calling and blame never work as well as real education. Then you go on to say LFTB should be used in pet food rather than human consumption, ignoring the facts that it is a safe and wholesome beef product. As far as its appearance, perhaps you are referring to the picture often used by the media that was actually mechanically separated chicken.

W.E. (not verified)
on May 21, 2014

Personal experience and the experiences of our beef customers have been our best education. Mr. Galbreath, try asking yourself some questions? Did I grow up eating lean finely textured beef? What would my parents have done? Would they have supported feeding their son lean finely textured beef treated with non-beef additives in school lunches or fast-food hamburgers? Am I a cattleman? If not, where do I fit in the food chain? If so, what good is the marketing of LFTB doing me? Answering these questions, the only reason we can see for LFTB is corporate profit, with little or no regard for the health, well-being and satisfaction of consumers. Or cattle producers, for that matter. As cattlemen, we feel we should be supporting the production and sale of only 100 percent wholesome, flavorful beef. For that reason, we dropped out of the beef industry after decades of struggling and striving to hit the shifting targets they set for us and our ruminant livestock. We have been marketing as many of our cattle as possible directly and independently to local consumers since 2003. The beef we sell is 100 percent beef, 100 percent forage-fed on high quality pasture, and 100 percent free of antibiotics, steroids, hormones, and whatever chemicals are used to make LFTB edible and "safe" for human consumption.

on May 22, 2014

1). Yes I did eat it and I support it 100% because I have looked into the process and know it is 100% beef, despite media reports that you may be relying on.
2). My parents would've supported it just fine as they, like me, look for facts rather than myths or fear-mongering when making decisions.
3). While I don't have cattle currently, I grew up raising cattle and am a cattle veterinarian, so I guess I do consider myself a cattleman. What good does it do me? It means that we are not wasting good beef. If you have pride in your product don't you want it to be used, rather than wasted? You often speak of respecting the land and sustainability in your comments. Isn't using as much beef as we can more efficient and more sustainable? Does that not mean we can produce more beef with less resources? Isn't that a worthwhile goal?

I answered those questions and I know the facts and see that the health, well-being, and satisfaction of consumers was definitely in the development of LFTB. Is profit also a part of it? OF COURSE. Do you raise cattle and try to make money at it? If not then I congratulate you being able to afford an expensive hobby. I have no problem with the management practices you often speak of in your comments, even if they are ones that I may not implement. In fact I congratulate you for your success and the pride you take in it. I DO have a problem, however, when people ignore the facts in order to denigrate other producers and industry segments further down the line.

on May 22, 2014

I think you drank the Kool aid. The manufacturers of pink slime manipulated the fda and usda into allowing them to process what used to be floor scrapings sent to the renderer and NOT label it. The product is not beef because it has gone through heat and chemical treatment...Therefore it has been converted by other than mechanical means and is not 'beef'. The question that never gets answered is 'does it have the same nutritional profile as ground beef sourced from muscle cuts.' Without labelling it the inclusion of that product is simply fraud.

on May 27, 2014

Okay, where do you get that they manipulated FDA and USDA into approval? Where is your source other than websites that use all capital letters and wear foil hats?
How is it that it is not beef? You realize that carcasses are typically washed with an acid to reduce contamination? This is a chemical treatment, so I guess that means it isn't beef right? Mechanical treatment -- so mechanical tenderization means it isn't beef? Heat treatment -- boy oh boy I never realized all the beef I was grilling was no longer beef.
Your "question that never gets answered" probably never is because people don't believe you are serious. Actually use the links I provided, read up on the process, and you will learn that they are muscle cuts. It is the same nutrient profile. Read the links. There is no excuse for willful ignorance.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

I'd certainly rather have mold on artisan cured meats (this is normal in charcuterie) than ammonia in my burger (as is the case of "pink slime"). How many other locker closings have been featured in this mag - I recall none. Interesting you lament a chef promoting meat consumption...

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Jamie Oliver did not say pink slime was unsafe....he said it isn't food. If you have to hose it down with ammonia to make it edible its not food. There are internal memos of FDA and USDA personnel, including vets and nutritionists, saying the same thing about the product during its approval process. Product that is not muscle tissue and is not attached to muscle tissue is not meat. Allowing 15% of pink slime to be added to ground beef and still call it beef is fraud. Customers were not told that 15% of the product was not beef...it was connective tissue....but they paid for it at the same as beef price. Again, fraud. The public was upset because the main customer for the newly invented ammonia treated textured garbage was our nation's school lunchrooms. It was fed to children. You are naive to blame some celebrity chef for the negative press that the beef industry brought to its own doorstep. They were selling garbage for the price of beef and got caught. Don't shoot the messenger on this one because the simple and honest solution would have been to label it and Jamie would have had nothing to talk about.

on May 21, 2014

Please take the time to read up on what LFTB is and the process behind it. You'll find that it is in fact muscle, it is beef, it is food, and it is safe and wholesome.
http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/76330%20
http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/76184%20

on May 22, 2014

You're kidding right? Just because it came from a bovine does not make it beef. Under that definition you could empty the colon of a harvested steer, pasteurize it and call it beef.

on May 22, 2014

Talk about a nonsensical statement. LFTB is protein that was not recoverable previously until BPI invented a process that made it possible to recover these tiny bits of meat off the carcass. Previously it was discarded, rendered, etc., because of the cost and difficulty of removing it. It is indeed meat. Your claim that LFTB is analogous to colon contents is truly ridiculous.

on May 22, 2014

I hardly said that pink slime is analogous to colon contents. The comment was making the point that just because a product was harvested from a steer carcass doesn't make it beef and doesn't make it food. Plenty of edible protein in hair and skin...ammonia breaks the chemical bonds and poof! now the steer hide is on my dinner plate instead of the sole of my shoes. More to the point: just label it and I don't care what some chemist wants to create and try and sell me for dinner because I can choose not to eat it.

The public responded with such outrage because they were worked over by their own government in the service of big business to jam what many think of as colon contents down our throats. If your mission in life is to convince people to eat protein sources that are cheap and available but gross most people out perhaps you should devote your time to getting people to eat insects...their rate of feed conversion is far higher than for beef, raising them has far less environmental impact, they are low in fat, there is little waste. Get it now? Plenty of things can be protein sources but people just don't want to eat them and it's not up to the food industry to trick people into doing so for the sake of their own profits.

on May 23, 2014

Did you even read the documents under the links I posted? It is muscle tissue and fat. When you raise the temperature close to normal body temperature, the fat becomes more liquid and easily separates from the lean muscle tissue. This is basic high school chemistry here. This is not breaking the bonds with ammonia like you seem to believe. A puff of ammonium hydroxide (an ingredient used in a vast array of foods like bread and cheese) raises the pH (this means it becomes more alkaline... high school chemistry again) slightly. This slight pH change is enough to inhibit or kill many foodborne pathogens.

Perhaps you should devote your time to brushing up on your high school chemistry.

on May 23, 2014

You are so focused on defending the product and nit picking the finer points of its production that you have once to even acknowledge the most important point. Millions of Americans don't want to eat it and are angry that it has been fraudulently represented as beef and sold to them without their knowing. The beef industry does not have the right to decide what Americans eat. If you think otherwise please note the shuttered bmi plants. The market has spoken regardless of all the scientific drivel written about the product.

on May 24, 2014

Following are the opinions of a cookbook author and a microbiologist on the topic of pink slime. I generally find independent opinions more reliable than those written by a company trying to sell their product to me as is the case with the article in your link. These quotes deal directly with taste and flavor and nutrition, things that are important to the people that buy the product. The product scores low on these criteria because the reason the product exists at all was so that slaughter house tankage which used to bring only a few cents a pound could now be used as filler and sold for the same price per pound as ground beef.
So you have a product that is disgusting to the palate and not very nutritious and you choose to defend it by repeating over and over that it is not contaminated with microbes?

" Food editor and cookbook author J.M. Hirsh described it as highly mealy with bits and studs of cartilage-like matter,[24] and a USDA microbiologist says the product does contain connective tissue "instead of muscle" and thus it is "not meat" and is "not nutritionally equivalent" to ground beef.[25]"

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Why doesn't the beef industry support Oliver and insist that MaDonald's sell a pure beef hamburger instead of criticism. I do not frequent fast food, but when I buy a burger I want a pure beef burger especially a locally raised grass fed burger if not just a good juicy burger.

on May 20, 2014

Instead of demo nixing Oliver why doesn't the beef industry insist on a quality 100 per cent beef burger at MacDonalds? I don't eat there but when I buy a burger I make sure it is one hundred per cent beef grown locally and Grassfed if not I want the real thing. We could bring up the issue of ecoli that is a larger issue vs Oliver's kitchen .

on May 20, 2014

The answer to your question, Amanda, "How can we counteract his (Chef Jamie Oliver) attacks against the beef industry?" is a single word--transparency. Those of us in the beef industry produce a safe, healthy, nutritious product. We should be proud enough to show everyone and anyone with full transparency how we do it. Oh, I know, this may be fraught with danger and naysayers, but we really have nothing to hide,and the positives, in my opinion far outweigh the negatives. When everyone knows completely how we do things, no one has a forum to spread disinformation. Mack H. Graves, 303-882-5453

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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