March 4th, 2010
06:32 PM ET

Evening Buzz: How Safe is Your Food?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

A Department of Agriculture veterinarian alleges officials at the agency failed to act on reports of illegal and unsafe slaughterhouse practices and just didn't want to deal with the trouble.

"They said there was no way that I could have seen what I actually did see. In the end, they told me I either had to transfer or I would be terminated. I was told to immediately leave the plant, to never come back, " Dr. Dean Wyatt testified on Capitol Hill today about one such incident.

Wyatt said he saw clear violations of food safety violations, such as butchering of calves that were too weak or sick to stand.

When meat from sick animals gets in the food supply that's how you can get sick. Food-borne illnesses cost the U.S. $152 billion a year, according to a new study released today by a former Food and Drug Administration economist.

The research suggests 76 million food-related illnesses each year, leading to 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.

Tonight on the program, we'll dig deeper on this threat. Anderson is talking with Robert Kenner, director of the eye-opening documentary "Food, Inc." Kenner reveals how your food makes it to the supermarket and what he shares may just kill your appetite. Anderson will also talk with Top Chef's Tom Colicchio for tips on eating well without hurting your wallet.

We also have an exclusive report tonight that reveals the secrets of the anthrax suspect. You'll hear from the addiction counselor of Bruce Ivins. As you may remember, Ivins was suspected of being the man behind the deadly anthrax mailing is in the days after the 9/11 attacks. Ivins took his own life in July 2008 just as the FBI was closing in and about to indict him. Ivins was a microbiologist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Ivins' counselor says he had problems with vodka and pill. Tonight, the counselor reveals shocking details on Ivins state of mind in those days leading up to him killing himself.

We will also continue our special series "Cost of Entry". As we've been reporting, the Center for Responsive Politics says 237 members of congress are millionaires. That's 44 percent of both houses and a few are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But not every representative is rolling in dough. We'll introduce you to a Congressman who's saving cash by sleeping in his office on a cot. He has his supporters, but some question whether it's all a stunt. We'll let you be the judge.

Join us for these stories and more at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Unbothered since 1982

    This is really sick, but what can you expect from money-hungry, greedy, self-centered, self-indulgent big-business? People are getting sick and dying from the food which is supposed to be safe, which amounts to billions of dollars a year. But, there are problems with getting better health care? Company executives lie, cheat and steal billions of dollars from hard working people and they are slapped on the knuckles with a ruler? Money talks, this may be true, but what words are you hearing? What are you allowing it to say to you?

    March 4, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  2. gina esposito

    This is a modern holocaust. The taking of animal life and the continued destruction of the planet to sustain human life is not only cruel to the animals it is the ultimate betrayal to future generations. Twenty-first century humans are creating more demand (i.e more people) while destroying the only source of supply (i.e. Earth). We are taking all life from the planet. Sadly, those who cannot fight back suffer the most horrific pain of all.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    Thank you for exposing the horror that these poor hapless creatures are subjected to. They are born into a nightmare, "live" a nightmare, and die a nightmare. They are sentient beings and have the same spark of life all living creatures have. What does it say about ourselves when we condone this outrage by continuing to support this industry by buying and eating the flesh of dead animals? It is certainly an opportunity to explore alternative ways of eating. Thank you again.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  4. Stanley, Namibia, Africa

    I'm shocked, no words. Really if this what is being eaten here, can't wait to go back to Africa. am visiting a friend in washington, will not eat another burger or so, really, only God can help you guys!

    March 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  5. Scott Hasselmann

    As a farmer just watching your program made me realize how clueless you and most americans are about where there food comes from and what is involved in producing it. I do appreciate your show and how you presented this topic. I invite anybody who thinks free range, naturally raised food is too expensive too come out to our farm and work for a week and see what is involved in producing it. Next time how about getting a sustainble farmer on the show. Farmers may only represent one or two precent of the population but we play a very important role in providing food for all of us, maybe its time we start listening to and supporting our local farmers, instead of the big multinational ag corporations.
    Scott from Illinois

    March 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  6. Kevin

    I consider myself "environmentalist" up to a point. I am not a "tree-hugger" and I never got arrested at a sit-in in front of a nuclear power plant like my granola Aunt from Oklahoma, but this isn't really about the "mistreatment" of animals. Cows are stupid, they really don't care how they are treated. This story is about the CONTAMINATION of our food supply with e-coli, samanellia, mad cow disease, and other food-borne illness, resulting in 76 million food-related illnesses each year.
    Food safety is JOB ONE. If you want to be kind to animals, get a cat.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  7. Kara Poulin

    If we wonder why the cost of healthcare is skyrocketing and the children born after the year of 2000 will not live as long as their parents...if we wonder why 1 in 2 children of of minority background will develop Type 2 diabetes..then looK no further than our industrialized food industry. If Obama wants to cut healcare costs then he should begin by stopping the government subsidization of corn and increase the government's regulation of the slaughter houses and factory farms!! High fructose corn syrup, cloned meat, and corn served up a million different ways needs to be stopped!!

    March 4, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  8. Jean Barnes

    Thank you SO MUCH Anderson for this wonderful story. Since the government CHOOSES not to protect animals and the food industry doesn't care who gets sick from the garbage they distribute it's good to know that Anderson and CNN are airing this.

    BSE is often mistaken for Alzheimers.

    It's simple. Go vegetarian and you don't have to worry about all that. (BTW-Why are these no-goods not prosecuted for animal cruelty/)

    Thanks again Anderson and CNN and please air more of this. The US needs to hear what's happening and have to face up to how we treat animals.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  9. Michael Tuohy

    Thank you for taking the time to focus on such a HUGE issue that faces
    our nation. This needs to be top news for a while to bring much needed awareness and education to the general public, Otherwise we will never be able to address and effect change in our terribly tangled web of our industrial food system.
    Chef Michael Tuohy
    Grange Restaurant
    Sacramento, Ca

    March 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  10. Rich

    I'm literally sick to my stomach after watching how easily the meat can be contaminated & how poorly the animals are treated! Why aren't these companies & inspectors being held accountable?! There needs to be more regulation!

    March 4, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  11. Sandy

    Disgusting cruelty displayed by workers at slaughterhouses, revolting feedlot conditions for our cattle, (who belong out on pasture),genetically modified chickens who are so top heavy they can't even walk...this is not only shameful but a truly revealing statement on the priorities of the agencies whose job is to protect our food supply and of the "factory farms" whose methods are inexcusable on all levels!
    As a follow up read "Eating Animals" and also "Food Rules, an Eaters Manual". They will really help point you toward "healthy eating" and on that note guess I'll go munch some celery!

    March 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  12. Vaish

    Thank you CNN for showing the session with the Chef, who pointed us to the Protein-rich alternatives like Lentils. This could encourage us to switch to an alternative cleaner diet.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  13. Anne

    As a physician who has horses, I have had numerous conversations with various large animal vets over the years regarding slaughterhouse issues. Yes, the stories this Dept of Agriculture vet is bringing to light are true. A slaughter house vet is expected to keep their mouth shut, and enable the maximum preoduction of meat.....every time they pull out diseased cattle, those numbers are watched carefully...if the owner/manageer feels the numbers are excessive, the vets are pressured. And not too nicely. Many ethical vets simply burn out and leave.

    As a neurologist who has treated Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, I can assure you that no downer cows should ever be allowed to be slaughtered for meat, and should never enter any part fo the food chain, but that is not what happens.

    Please continue to follow this story.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  14. Lacy

    I just seen the other clip you have about the chickens being grown bigger with hormones and chemicals, it is scary to know that our food is being contaminated with all that stuff how can that possibly be healthier for people to put those chemicals in our food

    March 4, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  15. Nancy

    So it's okay to slaughter the cow as long as they are treated nicely before their death? Stop eating animals!!!!

    March 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  16. Lacy

    It is sad to see how those animals are miss treated before they are killed it makes me sad I don't eat very much red meat but now I will completely stop, that clip was reality, my dad was a farmer before he passed away and it is just sad animals do have feelings even cows can become your best pet!!!

    March 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  17. Donna Fl.

    I'm so angry I almost can't sit still. I am contacting my senator and congressman tomorrow. If I was anywhere near that guy that was pushing that sick calf to get up that guy wouldn't be able to move for the next 10 days. I've had it with our government workers not doing their jobs while we the people, children, and animals have to suffer for it. They don't fund the programs and laws we have on the books now. What is wrong with them!!!??? Its simple do to others as you would have them do to you. Something we all learned in kindergarten.
    God help us.

    Donna Fl.
    Leave Your Comment

    March 4, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  18. Judy Garner

    It is about time that CNN covered a news story about the unhealthy and cruel practices of factory farming featured in the film "Food Inc."
    However, I was gravely disappointed that your coverage emphasized the usual egocentric attitude that the main concern is for the health of humans. We humans have caused the unhealthy conditions that are not only threatening to destroy ourselves but also this innocent planet with all its wildlands and wildlife that is at the mercy of self-centered, overpopulating Homo Sapiens. What about the unthinkably disgustingly SICK abuse and insanely cruel treatment of billions of poor animals who suffer a short, wretched living hell just so obese, materialistic, pampered people can get more and more meat for pennies. We cry that we can't afford to raise and treat animals humanely for our food (cost too expensive), yet we spend billions on beauty products, sports, other entertainment, etc. We need to get our priorities straight and do the right thing concerning all living things.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  19. Kathy K.

    I became a vegeterian while reading Eating Animals in November of last year. It's the best feeling ever. Good for me, animals and the earth. I buy my husband and daughter Laura's Natural Lean beef when I can and try really hard to get them to cut way down on meat, which they have. THANK YOU ANDERSON COOPER for bringing the story into the mainstream. What the animals have to go through is so terrible. I look forward to reading both Food Inc and Animal Factory.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  20. Lisa

    I have been vegan for over 15 years and I would not imagine eating what the meat industry calls food. Food Inc. is excellent! I teach individuals how to incorporate healthy eating habits in to their lives. The discussion of cutting back on red meat and meat in general is always met with resistance. I think that people need to be more proactive about what they put into their mouths. Yes Food Inc is very necessary!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  21. Sarah

    People seem that the governments job is to protect capitalism so that we can have our nice American lifestyles but it's this lifestyle that feeds our need for fast fast. I think the governments job it to protect and keep it's citizens safe. When I was a kid everyone had a garden and going out to eat was a special occasion. When will the people take back our own health?

    March 4, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  22. Donna Fl.

    I'm so angry I almost can't sit still. I am contacting my senator and congressmen tomorrow. If I was anywhere near that guy that was pushing that sick calf to get up that guy wouldn't be able to move for the next 10 days. I've had it with government workers not doing their jobs while we, children, and animals have to suffer for it. They don't fund the programs and laws we have on the books now. What is wrong with them!!!??? Its simple do to other as you would have them do to you. Something we all learned in kindergarden.
    God help us
    Donna Fl

    March 4, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  23. dixiesaid2

    Anything to make a buck! It doesn't bother these people how many get sick or die.If you can't grow your own or raise your own we no longer know what we are eating.America is heading faster and faster into disaster.Take a long hard look at our goverment and all that's happining right and left. I shutter to think what my Grand-children, Great-grand children are going to have to deal with .Our only hope is in God and the American people standing up and demanding changes be made.Thank God for Anderson Cooper and others of the press like him"and they are few"who have aheart for the truth and make us aware of all these things.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  24. va hokie

    This is why I hunt whitetail deer. My family enjoys meat and I feel safer eating venison that is drug free and much leaner.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  25. jenner, comm of dominica

    i stopped eating regular beef and chicken after reading fast food nation. The USDA and FDA are both corrupt institutions. eat organic or free range just like mother nature intended. good story AC. keep Digging Deeper and holding them honest.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  26. Chris

    Thank you, CNN and Anderson Cooper for covering this topic!
    Hope this story empowers more people to actually find out about where there food is coming from. We can ALL do a better job of making informed choices, despite the purposeful lack of transparency in meat production systems. Our health is worth the time spent on a little research.
    I disagree that eating better food is necessarily more expensive. Buy some whole grains, vegetables and fruit... Get plenty of protein and nutrients, and you'll save money not buying steak.

    Terri – While choices like Niman Ranch are healthier and less cruel, beware of green-washing and false claims of happier animals. Even supposed "happy cows" (if that exists at all) are still sent to the same government-approved slaughterhouses – repeated electric prodding, torture, and all.
    I highly recommend The Ethics of What We Eat for more on the subject.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  27. Trista

    Dr. Dean Wyatt is my dad!!!! 😀
    I'm trying to be a vegan and my sister is a vegetarian.
    We're very proud of him!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  28. Etti de Laczay

    The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released their conclusion after a 2 and 1/2 year study of factory farming to say that this method of producing our meat is unsustainable. What distinguished this study from other srtatements by aware food activists was that this study was conducted by a commission which included members of the industry, consumers, farmers, academics, residents near factory farms... that is, a great variety of stakeholders – and it still came to the conclusion that factory farms ought to be phased out. It seems the only people still supporting factory farms are their operators – and the USDA! – even against the evidence of unsafe meat, the potential loss of antibiotics due to their overuse on these farms and the breeding of "superbugs" (anti-biotic resistant bacteria), the implication of bovine growth hormone in breast cancer (we drink the hormones given to cows in their milk – along with pus from their frequent udder infections from forced milk production) etc. etc. etc - the list goes on. Why do we put up with this? And why hasn't the Pew study gotten more coverage from the press? Is it becoming obvious yet, anyone, that the capitalist model of growth ,growth, growth at any cost to our health and environment is well nigh bankrupt, whether you're looking at our food system, our financial system, our housing system, our health. Isn't it time to start thinking of another model based not on profit but on doing what needs to be done to keep our habitat and ourselves viable?

    March 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  29. Anne

    Thanks so very much for this news segment on the safety of our food. Of course, this raises great and legitimate concerns for people's health. But, I am so gratified to see that, finally on national television, a bright light is being shined on the unbelievable cruelty involved in the raising and slaughter of animals some of us eat. We don't eat meat for all the reasons raised in this piece, and I hope many others will consider a similar move after learning the meat industry's ugly secrets.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  30. Rox

    Saw Food Inc. Too bad it didn't get more press: perhaps awareness will be raised after the Oscars highlight it. The film is highly educational about safety issues regarding our food chain and the big corporations who have established monopolies. It changed the way I view what I eat and purchase. More stories, please CNN, on what's being done (or not) by the FDA to protect the public: Keep 'em honest!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  31. D.Lee Anne Nicholson

    It's about time light has been shed on the discusting animal cruelty these "food source" animals are put though by these so called industries I'm sure the cruelty is worse than we can ever imagine it to be. I hope to be informed further as to what punishments these companies will be dealt for thier very wrongful actions regarding the horrible treatment of the animals they torment and kill and put on the market which in the end is on all of our dinner plates. It's enough to make a person seriously consider vegetarianism over ingesting the results of this type of cruelty. Thanks for the tips on how not to contribute to thier profit from these meat sales.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  32. Sheryl

    Ok people, please do not take what certain people in the livestock industry do as what is going on thru-out the entire livestock industry. One bad apple can spoil the entire bag. Most of us do not treat our animals like what some of these documentaries portray. So now people get all up in arms about the cruelty of idiots that shouldn't even be working in the industry. If you think that not eating meat will make all of the bad people go away. You really are not thinking clearly. If you shut down the industry, then you are condemning yourself to no farmers and if you think that food is expensive then you haven't seen anything yet. No farmers.. NO FOOD!!!!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  33. Deborah Clifton

    I've always wanted to be a vegetarian but haven't quite been able to do it.. After tonight I'm going to try harder.. it's not the safety that really got to me, but the abuse of animals. I almost got sick to my stomach watching. Where do these miserable non humans that can mistreat animals come from? What a society we live in!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  34. Terri

    Thank you, CNN, for exposing this very important health issue. After watching Food, Inc., I looked online for beef NOT raised by these barbaric, cruel and unsafe methods and found MANY outlets nation wide for grass-fed, free range animals. I ordered half a beef from a NM ranch less than 100 miles from me and the total price was just under $5/lb. It is leaner than conventional beef but delicious and much healthier. The USDA and FDA are interested only in protecting the few big conglomerates who line their pockets, not in the safety of our food supply.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  35. Hari

    The dairy farm close to my house smells so bad. I have a pet dog in my house – it never smells bad. The campground that I went to had so many deers – it does not smell bad. Why can't we force the Government to mandate that cows to be grown in a natural habitat? Considering the diseases that killed so many people in this decade alone and the amount of green house gases caused by the meat industry, we all should eat vegetarian food at least 5 days a week.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  36. Scott

    After watching Food, Inc about a month ago, I was so grossed out by the hamburger, I started to grind my own hamburger by buying whole cuts of chuck and sirloin. Tastes much better and I control whats in my hamburger.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  37. Donna DuVal

    Eat what my daughter calls it-"fake meat". Try it-you'll like it! No recall notices-no e-coli. Hmmmmmmm.........

    March 4, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  38. Tim Hull

    I haven't eaten meat in 12 years, and for many of those reasons. There are many great ways to get all the protein you need with out eating something that was alive. Please consider things other than yourself, then see if you still want to eat meat!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  39. elverina tan

    After watching food inc. I became more careful in my food selection. Today youngsters grow obestity at a younger age could be contribute by the hormones treatment applied to the feeds.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  40. J.R.

    In referring to local is more expensive: People who are on govt. assistance can buy (using their EBT card) at their local food co-op.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  41. tom

    ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!! corruption goes up...follow the money!

    March 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  42. Claudia L

    Thank you Anderson for discussing this! Food Inc is one of the films that made me go vegan. Please continue to shed light on the food industry.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  43. va hokie

    Just another reason to stock my freezer with venison. No drugs and less fat.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  44. lemonade4t

    It is making me sick to watch this. But not watching is 'sicker'. Thanks for a much needed awareness.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  45. J.R.

    This is why I shop at the local co-op. Just like we need to get off of 'Big Oil'. . .we need to get off of 'Big Food.' When is our government going to start regulating and overseeing the food industry and taking care of its people?!?

    March 4, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  46. naren koka

    How can Government control what people can see from these places? Why not make it mandatory that all these places show what they are doing inside the closed doors to the public?

    March 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  47. Lynn

    It isn't just that the food is possibly unhealthy, (yes, even for the families of the people who sell us this food) but the treatment of these animals is disgusting. I am sick of seeing people mistreat any animal. What has happened to us that we have no regard for life.
    I am going to stop eating meat. I can't handle what I am hearing and seeing on this. I have officially become a vegetarian, as of now. than you Anderson for reporting on this.

    March 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  48. Janice Connelly Ocala,Florida

    OK..the abuse is off the charts for animals,I cut back on meat years ago because of how they are killed..abuse runs high in the human race.Why do we need to abuse anything? We abuse kids,elderly and animals..

    March 4, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  49. April

    Food Inc. is a fabulous documentary, along with The World According to Monsanto and King Corn. Really opens your eyes to what you are eating, and how to change your habits now before it's too late. Vote with your wallets: don't eat GMO and support local growers and stores. Our food chain has gone insane.

    March 4, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  50. Annie Kate

    I'm not sure I want to buy beef again after reading this – using the meat of sick animals to sell to the public. I wonder just how many people got sick from this and if any died. I'm looking forward to this story and the follow-up on how to eat healthy without breaking the bank, Looking forward to the show.

    March 4, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
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