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Frankensteer definitely something to beef about
By SHERRI WOOD

Ever wonder what exactly is in that ground beef you buy at the supermarket?

If you're like the majority of Canadian consumers, you may not want to know. Some things are better left well enough alone, right?

Wrong - at least according to the creators of Frankensteer, a disturbing documentary airing tonight at 9 on CBC's Passionate Eye.

The homegrown doc reveals what's really involved in the North American beef industry, including some startling facts about inspection rules, mad cow disease and the use of drugs and growth hormones.

This is not a pro-vegetarian propaganda film, although the troubling revelations certainly inspire a meat-free lifestyle.

"We have taken this benign, natural vegetarian and turned it first into a cannibal, and when that didn't work, into a vampire," narrates Ted Remerowski, Frankensteer's writer.

"We've turned its brain and spinal cord into toxic sites. We have managed to turn its feces into something that routinely makes us sick and occasionally kills us. We have taken the cow and used it as our experiment in developing the perfect food machine.

"In the process, we've created our very own frankensteer."

This documentary serves up a stockpile of disturbing information from sources on all sides of the cattle fence, including an agricultural research scientist, feedlot operators, an agricultural economist, organic farmers, veterinarians and Health Canada officials.

Among the revelations:

- The vast quantity of antibiotics fed to cattle comes with potential negative effects for humans (such as becoming resistant to antibiotics for human infections).

- Health Canada has OK'd the use of a cancer-causing growth hormone that has long been banned in Europe, and has refused to make public the reasons for this decision.

- Because of mad cow disease concerns, we no longer force cows to eat the remains of other cows, but we still feed them cow blood and other animal remains, which is, of course, an unnatural diet for the animal.

- Certain parts of cows are now considered bio-hazardous products, and food safety agencies warn us to treat ground beef as if it were a toxic product for fear of E. coli bacteria.

The low-budget, straightforward production avoids in-your-face pandering, choosing instead to lay out the details with a simple, no-frills approach. But be warned: much of it isn't pretty.

In the end, the makers of Frankensteer say certified organic beef is the way to go, even if you have to pay an extra few bucks for the cut (better yet, skip the burger altogether).

Yeah, it's definitely a snore at times, but hey, after Survivor, you may need to up your educated brain stock.

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