By Dr. Mercola

Have you ever wondered how many hamburgers come from one cow? Online Magazine Today I Found Out reports that with an average cow, which yields about 200 kilograms (or 440 pounds) of usable meat, you could make 4,500 hamburgers at McDonald’s.1
The Iowa Beef Industry Council reports a different number based on quarter-pound hamburgers.2 They note that you could make nearly 1,000 quarter-pound burgers from the ground beef from one 1,000-pound steer. These numbers may not be as far off as they seem, considering the original McDonald’s hamburger is considerably smaller than a quarter-pound burger.
Suffice to say, you can feed quite a few hungry mouths with the meat from one cow and, in fact, joining a local food coop and going in on an entire side of beef is often a more economical choice as well. In that case you can have the meat processed any way you’d like; and you needn’t fill your freezer with thousands of burgers…

One Hamburger Might Come from Hundreds of Cows…

Ironically, while one cow can provide meat for thousands of burgers, that doesn’t mean your burger came from one cow, particularly if it’s a burger made out of CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meat.
Ground beef is typically an amalgam of meat from different cows, from different slaughterhouses. So one burger could have come from hundreds of animals and different parts of the world. This raises the risks of contamination significantly, even beyond the risks of CAFO meat alone.
For instance, in 2000 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a study that found 89 percent of US ground beef patties contained E.coli O157:H57, a particularly deadly strain known to kill one in 20 of those infected. The rate applied to ground beef from large batches, about 3,000 pounds or more,


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