How safe is it to eat meat in America? Two PBS Frontline Documentaries ask the hard questions about E. Coli, Salmonella, and other bacteria that are sending American families to the hospital, and in some cases to the grave. The latest Center for Disease Control estimates (2011) state that each year roughly 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.
By Matthew Toplikar
Jan 9, 2016
Sometimes over the course of searching for new content, we at Films For Action come across two films or videos that go so well together that it only makes sense to watch them in the same sitting. This recently happened when we came across two PBS Frontline documentaries that were produced over a decade apart from each other– one in 2002 and the other in 2015. Both films touch on the American meat processing industry's practices and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ability to regulate them. Watching the two films together gave us a better understanding of how little progress has occured in food safety practices in the current century.
Both films are under an hour in length so you can finish this double feature in less time than it takes to watch the latest Star Wars episode.
Directed by PBS Veteran, Doug Hamilton (NOVA, Frontline World, The American Masters), Modern Meat starts us on the journey of the modern meat processing industry and the USDA that regulates them. At this point in history the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported approximately 76 million cases of food-borne illness, with 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths every year.
Directed by one of Frontline's best, Rick Young (Spying on the Homefront, Is Wal-Mart Good For America?), "The Trouble With Chicken" tracks a recent deadly outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg (one of a dozen in 2013) that was traced to California-based poultry producer, Foster Farms. The film shows both how the bacteria went undetected and spread over 26 states, as well as the USDA's lack of regulating power to recall the contaminated chicken for over a year.
Above Photo by Marius Boatca