Are There DDT or PCBs In Your Meat?

I read this article — Is Your Meat Habit Giving You Diabetes? — and debated between adding it to the Sunday link roundup and giving it its own post. I decided to give it its own post because there was a lot of information in it that was interesting and new to me.

Contrary to what the title might suggest, it’s not a “you should be vegetarian” article. It’s an interesting look at chemicals that were banned decades ago (DDT, PCBs, etc.) that are still showing up in our food meat and consequently, our bodies, why this is the case, and what some of the effects are.


Many widely-used chemicals over the years have been found to be toxic and have been banned for decades. However, they are still showing up in factory-farmed food animals — cows, pigs, chickens, fish, etc.

How? They

accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals—and transfer to the animals that eat them, including humans who eat meat and fish. In industrial animal farming, livestock are often given feed that includes animal fat, which helps POPs hang around in the food chain. “We feed the cow fat to the pigs and the chickens, and we feed the pig and chicken fat to the cows,” one expert told Elert. The widespread practice of feeding “poultry litter“—chicken feces mixed with feathers, dead chickens, and feed remnants, including beef products—to confined cows is another way these toxins keep cycling though the food chain. Why would the meat industry engage in such feeding practices? Simply put, because they’re cheap.

And then we ingest the animals.

Beyond having these toxic chemicals in our bodies, there is an increasing number of studies that show a connection between diabetes and elevated levels of these chemicals in the bloodstream.

The article did mention a few times that these are problems in factory-farmed fish and animals. If a cow is grass-fed, it isn’t eating other cows and therefore isn’t recycling the chemicals.

I found the whole article to be fascinating, disgusting, and enlightening and hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it and let me know what you think!

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