"What could be simpler than a hamburger? Take a ground beef patty, throw it on a grill, wait a few minutes as the fat sizzles, maybe add some cheese, and stick it on a bun. It’s a thoroughly American operation that takes place countless times a day all around the country. The average American, in fact, eats three hamburgers a week. And with more meat available than ever before, today’s beef costs 30 percent less than it did in 1970, making it that much more attractive to consumers looking for a quick, cheap meal.
But in Modern Meat, FRONTLINE goes inside the world of the modern American meat industry and shows that this once simple product, the hamburger, is no longer so simple.
Nor can you assume that it’s safe. While sweeping changes in the meat industry — making it vastly more centralized, high-tech, and efficient — have led to the low prices, the transformation has also introduced new risks. In “Modern Meat,” FRONTLINE speaks with scientists and industry observers who say that pooling thousands of cows in feedlots makes it easier for bacteria to spread from one animal to another.
“Cows tend to produce feces [and] feces is primarily bacteria,” says Glenn Morris, a microbiologist at the University of Maryland and a former USDA official. “In the larger feedlots,” he adds, “there’s a greater chance for the passage of microorganisms back and forth. All of that contributes to the spread of microorganisms like E. coli.” (Taken from topdocumentaryfilms.com)
New York Newsday - Noel Holston
"This is one Thursday night when 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' won't be the most gruesome hour on TV. Tonight there's 'Modern Meat,' Frontline's unflinching survey of how the hamburger patties get to your favorite fast food restaurant.
If the slaughter house footage doesn't do your tummy in, the sight of 2,000 pound bins of spare cattle parts being dumped in giant grinders just might. But the trip through a 'disassembly' plant, as one observer labels a high-tech butchering operation, is actually less off-putting than the visit to a huge Colorado feedlot, where thousands of cows await their rendezvous with sesame-seed buns, standing knee-deep in their own manure.
The intention here is not to scare viewers away from 'Modern Meat,' just to ensure that they know what they'll see and what questions it might raise. This is really an important public-service documentary, and its goal isn't to turn us into a tofu nation but to make sure we understand where our next burger is coming from. ..."
Rocky Mountain News - Dusty Saunders
"If Frontline were not a prestigious fact-finding public television series, a viewer might be tempted to dismiss Modern Meat as a tabloid TV scare. But as it normally does, Frontline offers documentary evidence and commentary that will make you wonder about the safety of the meat you regularly eat, particularly hamburger. ...
Frontline, by the way, doesn't have to worry about any network censorship challenges because it's not interrupted by commercials from noted fast-food chains, which will be a bit unhappy when viewing Modern Meat."
New York Post - Linda Stasi
"...[G]ood reporting...but where the show falls down is in exposing more of the impact from hormone and antibiotic filled cattle upon growing children who eat the meat from these animals.
...Frontline talks with the industry insiders on both sides of the, er, cattle fence, and gives a decent, well-rounded account that will still leave you retching -- or maybe renewing your college vow to go vegan."
The Denver Post - Joanne Ostrow
"Where's the beef? Frontline's got the beef...and from the opening sizzle of fast-food burgers on a meat grill, you know 'Modern Meat' isn't going to be an appetizing tour.
Grotesque, nauseating and ultimately very informative, the hour covers contamination, new federal safety regulations and high-tech meat industry innovations that have changed the composition of the typical burger, leaving it more open to the spread of bacteria. ...
The history of meat inspections, the power of the $80 billion-a-year U.S. meatpacking industry and its lobbyists, the threats of globalization and bio-terrorism...it all adds up to [a] sickening but superior report. ..."
The San Diego Union-Tribune - Robert P. Laurence
"Electronic Media's list of who really matters in TV journalism blithely ignores the man who, week in and week out, has provided some of the most substantial beef in the medium.
He's David Fanning, executive producer of Frontline, which this week takes a look at the American meet industry, specifically hamburger." (taken from PBS.org)
Here is a film trailer for "Shall we Gather at the River?":