It's come to this. In mid-August, the Food and Drug Administration
approved the spraying of live viruses onto poultry and meat products.
The virus spray, manufactured by a Baltimore company called
Intralytix, contains six different viral strains designed to kill
listeria, a germ that sickens an estimated 2,500 Americans yearly.
Meat companies do not have to inform consumers which products have
been treated and which have not.
As a doctor, I would like to call for a reality check.
Decades ago, we learned that the fat and cholesterol in meat boost the
amount of cholesterol in consumers' blood. And that leads to heart
attacks. So doctors advised us to cut back on meat and get to know
Then it was carcinogens. As meat is grilled, cancer-causing chemicals
called heterocyclic amines form on its surface, suggesting an
explanation for the higher cancer rates in meat-eaters, compared with
vegetarians. Chicken turned out to produce much higher levels of
carcinogens than beef.
And now, to kill some of the germs that come from an animal's
intestinal tract and land on a piece of meat containing saturated fat
and cholesterol, we need to spray the meat with viruses.
It's time to wake up and smell the problem. Millions of Americans now
say no to meat. As they do so, their cholesterol levels plummet. Their
coronary arteries open up again. Their waistlines shrink, and their
cancer rates drop 40 percent. A healthy vegetarian diet could
revolutionize the health of the nation.
Neal D. Barnard is a nutrition researcher and president of the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. This piece was
distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.