If you read this space regularly, you know I’m a tad obsessed about the meat at Wal-Mart. It’s not that I plan to eat any of it soon, it’s that I think people ought to know exactly what gets done to it. I’ve been following the story Wal-Mart suppliers gassing the meat with carbon monoxide for months, and I knew that Wal-Mart watered down its meat but I didn’t quite understand how much until I read this outraged letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott:
I didn’t take the time to inspect the entire meat department but I did look at a small sampling of those cuts around me.
Chicken Breasts.contained……15% solution
Pork Roast……contained……12% solution
Ground Round….contained……15% solution
Chuck Roast…..contained……11% solution
Beef Fillet…..contained……20% solution
I have no doubt in my mind that this is (sorry about the pun), just the tip of the iceburg. If you carry this through, you will realize that we’re paying considerably more per pound of “meat” than the label implies. While we believe we’re buying a 5-pound fillet for $4.96 per pound or $24.80 total, in reality, it’s costing considerably more. Divide the price for the four pounds of actual meat when you subtract for a pound for the solution and you’ll see that we paid $6.20 for a pound for the actual meat.
Now I realize this guy didn’t do a scientific survey or anything, but Wal-Mart told the NYT that “a majority of its fresh offerings are enhanced with a 6 to 12 percent solution of water, salt, sodium phosphate and natural flavorings.” Perhaps they have their math a little off?
If Wal-Mart isn’t selling water in its meat in order to rip people off, what exactly is all that solution doing in there? Here’s Wal-Mart’s explanation to the Hartford Courant:
Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters told me that all its case-ready beef (packaged at the processing plant) is “enhanced with a maximum 12 percent solution of water, sodium phosphate, salt, and natural flavorings. As a result, case-ready beef is superior in tenderness, texture, juiciness, and flavor to non-enhanced beef cuts and provides a preferred eating experience.
So let me get this straight. Wal-Mart saves money buying its meat from factory farms. Wal-Mart saves money by not hiring meatcutters so that they won’t unionize. Wal-Mart saves money by selling its customers water at the same price by weight they charge for meat. Yet they’re trying to tell us they sell meat injected with water and chemicals because we’ll get a “preferred eating experience?”
How dumb do they think we are?