This week saw publication of The Star's investigation of the beef industry, particularly looking at the practice of mechanical tenderization. This process uses small blades to puncture the meat, sometimes carrying contaminants such as E. coli from the surface deep into the muscle tissue, where it may not be killed by cooking as it would on the exterior.
By and large, the comments I heard about the series have been positive.
"I am thoroughly enjoying your series on Big Beef - and am astonished at what I did not know," wrote one.
"The kind of journalism I look to newspapers to do, because nobody else seems to be doing investigations any more" said a caller.
I've heard suggestions for follow-up, including more than one call for The Star to look at how irradiating food can drastically cut the risk of such infection at what the science says is no risk to humans or sacrifice of flavor. That technique would undoubtedly raise some public objection, as the concept of eating intentionally-radiated food is understandably frightening. I agree it's a good subject for further inquiry.
I've also heard from critics, such as my first caller this Monday, who said the story's length was "overkill. ... No one is going to read all of that. Often my husband and I feel that about your series."
Emailer Charles Bourland thought the series relied to heavily on one type of voice. "A lot of this was based on interviews with inspectors. The inspectors have a bias against HACCP because it takes away some of their jobs. They still want to live in the last century.
"... HACCP was developed by NASA, Pillsbury, and the U.S. Army and is used worldwide in the food industry. Who thinks industry wants to produce contaminated product and face all the lawsuits and recalls?"
I'm interesting in more reader thoughts on the topic, so keep them coming.