Tufts justice students need to learn to substantiate rhetoric about E. coli in beef: students organize petition for more free−range meat

Has Change.org jumped the shark?

Students enrolled in the Environmental Justice and U.S. Literature class taught by English Professor Elizabeth Ammons last Thursday collected signatures in Dewick−MacPhie Dining Hall and outside Carmichael Hall for a petition asking that Tufts Dining Services offer more free−range meat options in the dining halls.

The petition, which is also available online at Change.org, asks Dining Services to dedicate 10 percent of its meat purchases in the 2013−2014 academic year to free−range and to incrementally increase meat purchases to 50 percent free−range by 2020.

Tufts Daily reports that “non−free−range meat, despite being soaked in ammonia, has 20 times more E. coli bacteria than free−range meat, according to the petition.”

“The industrial meat system isn’t very clean,” sophomore Kara Daniels, a member of the class, said. “People have died from E. coli outbreaks. It just really affects people.”

Yes, people die from E. coli outbreaks involving all sorts of foods and feeding conditions. There are lots of capable people at Tufts who can respond to this, but the lit students initiated this one, so, what’s the source? What’s the reference? Show everyone the data.