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5 Beef Myths In Opinion Column Debunked

A BEEF Daily reader recently sent me a copy of the Center For Science In The Public Interest’s (CSPI) Nutrition Action Health Letter from April 2014. She was upset by a column written by Michael F. Jacobsen, CSPI executive director, entitled, “Hoofing It Away From Beef.” After reading the opening paragraph, I can see why it made her angry.

Jacobsen blames the nation’s health and environmental problems on grain-fed beef, and claims it’s animal abuse to feed cattle corn. He also celebrates that the nation’s cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1952 and is excited that Americans consume just 42 lbs. of beef each year, down more than a third since the 1970s.

The cherry on top of Jacobsen’s misinformation sundae is this: He says the beef checkoff is our industry’s nasty way to boost beef sales. Apparently, in a capitalist system, it’s a crime to promote your product to consumers. You can learn a bit more about Jacobsen and CSPI here.

On that website, you’ll notice that writer Jacob Sullum characterizes CSPI this way: “The typical CSPI report takes one or two plausible concerns, blows them way out of proportion, and throws in several dangers that are trivial, unlikely, or highly speculative, all in an effort to scare people into the one course of action CSPI knows to be right.”


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I’d like to take a minute to debunk a few of the claims Jacobsen makes with some of my previous blog posts on these topics. Feel free to share this blog on your social media sites today.

1. Jacobsen claims grain-fed beef clogs arteries and promotes colon cancer.

Read: Red Meat Does Not Cause Cancer, Study Concludes

Read: 6 Reasons Why I Eat Meat Every Day -- Mondays, Too

2. He says cows emit methane gas causing global warming.

Read: Global Warming, A Red, Hot Lie?

3. He suggests that grain fed to animals triggers the growth of pathogens, which can make people sick.

Read: Hot Topic: Last Night's Larry King Live, "Beef - Safe or Scary?"

4. He describes the livestock of animals grown in feedlots as “miserable.”

Read: “Feed Yard Foodie” Blog Answers Consumer Questions

5. He criticizes the beef industry for using youth Beef Ambassadors to stoke beef sales and capture the attention of millennials.

Last I heard, promotion and advertising of products, particularly healthy ones, isn’t a crime. Of course, Jacobsen is reported to once have said “We could envision taxes on butter, potato chips, whole milk, cheeses, [and] meat.”

Read: Checkoff Explores Next Generation Of Beef Consumers

Read: National Beef Ambassadors, Masters Of Beef Advocacy Great Checkoff Programs

I hate to see this steady onslaught of misinformation about beef, such as Jacobsen’s, make the rounds. The only way to combat it is to continue to put the truth in front of our consumers and work to balance out the conversation.

What do you think of some of Jacobsen’s claims? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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


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