According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat nearly 10 billion animals a year, including 33 million cows. If you make the choice to eat meat, Michael says you should know how it's produced. To get the inside scoop, Lisa Ling travels to Colorado, where Cargill, the biggest producer of ground beef in the world, gives her a rare inside look at how our meat is made.
Go inside a meat processing plant with Lisa
Lisa's trip starts with a visit to a feed lot, where as many as 12,000 cattle are in the process of being fattened up. The cattle stay on the feed lot for around 200 days and gain about three pounds a day from a highly concentrated diet of corn and corn byproduct. Afterward, Lisa is taken to the Cargill processing plant and meets General Manager Nicole Johnson-Hoffman. Nicole tells her that they bring in 4,500 animals a day, which arrive in about 140 different truckloads of cattle.
Upon arrival, the cattle are held in pens for two hours to calm them before they're sent to be slaughtered. Each cow is then shot in the head with a bolt, which renders it insensible to pain. The cow's artery is then cut, and about two minutes later, it dies from blood loss. After the animal's death, the body is immediately washed, the skin is removed, and within minutes, the workers also remove the hooves, the hide and the head. The carcass is then moved to a giant cooler, where it stays for up to two days. After it's been inspected and graded, it's packaged, loaded on trucks and soon ends up in our local restaurants and stores.