I think we can all agree that 2018 was a bloody year. From the numerous scares of the outbreak of COVID-19 to the tragic loss of life that was caused by the seasonal flu, 2018 was definitely not an easy year to survive.
While the world continues to mourn the victims of the pandemic, many are now wondering what will 2019 bring.
In light of all this, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on one of the most pivotal and alarming events of the year – the sudden resurgence of the ‘pink disease’.
What Is The ‘Pink Disease’?
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a fan of The Twilight Saga or have at least heard of it. If not, then let me give you a brief introduction to this mysterious disease – The ‘pink disease’.
The pink disease (or ‘pink slime’), also known as Escherichia coli O157:H7, is a type of bacteria that can cause serious digestive problems and potentially even death. It’s no secret that the beef industry has been plagued by this bacteria for years, but this year it hit the mainstream media and social media outlets like never before. Thanks, in part, to the efforts of two influential women, who changed the way we viewed food and agriculture in 2018.
Meet Kristin Scott and Chloe Angyal
Kristin Scott is an investigative journalist from Vermont who is known for having exposed the dangers of the pink disease in her bestselling book, The Pink Sludge Secrets, which I myself have read and found to be a truly eye-opening piece of investigative journalism. Scott was motivated to investigate the pink slime phenomenon after watching two of her patients die from the disease. In fact, her investigation led her to the Beef Products Plant in Springdale, Nebraska, where she witnessed firsthand how the disease is both created and consumed.
Chloe Angyal is a leading international authority on food safety issues, having penned several books on the subject of food scares and advising governments and businesses across the globe on how to prevent food contamination and keep their products safe for consumption. She is an acknowledged expert on E. coli and is frequently called upon by international organizations to give expert testimony in cases involving E. coli or other food contamination scares. She is also a vegan, which makes her a walking contradiction considering the type of job she does. In March 2019, Angyal was appointed as the United Kingdom’s Chief Scientist for Food and Safety, a role she will need to tackle the country’s food contamination problems, which are among the worst in Europe.
The Whole Beef Industry Is In Collapse
The year 2018 was a big year for the beef industry. We saw many large companies collapse (permanently, in some cases), while others were driven into administration. This was largely brought on by the fact that people were scared to eat beef products due to the ‘pink disease’ outbreaks (and similar incidents across the world), coupled with the fact that the general public had grown really sick of the industry’s poor handling of animal welfare issues. We also saw many farmers become disillusioned and simply leave the business, leading to further unemployment and increased poverty levels within the rural sector – not to mention the fact that many of those who remained simply couldn’t make a living wage anymore due to the industry’s lean margins.
Public Outrage And Change
It’s well-established that the beef industry, and the agricultural sector generally, is not popular among the public. The dairy and egg industries also receive a lot of bad publicity, and for good reason – while eggs are delicious and dairy are healthy foods, both industries have been plagued by several major food scares in recent decades. This has led many to believe that products manufactured in these factories are likely to be contaminated.
The difference this year was that the food scares didn’t simply involve a few isolated incidents but rather a veritable epidemic that gripped the nation, fueled in part by social media. People used the #pinkdisease and #beefscare hashtags nonstop on Twitter, and large food brands were forced to address the issue head-on, issuing detailed statements about the safety of their products and how they are inspected and tested on a regular basis. Many large food brands saw their share values plummet, in some cases, with the group representing beef products losing 96% of its value in 2018 alone.
The public’s growing distrust of big food brands, coupled with the fact that several prominent health bodies and celebrities voiced concerns about the safety of beef, led to a paradigm shift in the way we look at and interact with our food. For the first time in decades, the beef industry was truly under the microscope, and for the better.
Ultimately, it was two influential women – one a journalist, the other an expert in food safety – who led the charge in rallying the general public behind the cause of ‘cleaning up’ the nation’s food supply. By doing so, they changed the way we will view and interact with our food for the better.
Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to tweet me @_robertpattinson or click below to send us an email.