Why you never get what you pay for in the supermarket

How crazy is it that we actually need a new regulation to stop people from selling salt water and calling it steak?

Pull this stunt in any other industry -- try selling a tire made in part of cardboard -- and they'll lock you up.

But the normal rules don't apply in the meat industry -- heck, the meat industry gets to write its own rules -- so most consumers don't know that 90 percent of all pork, 30 percent of chicken and 15 percent of beef are plumped up with brine.

That's just salt water, and the industry claims it's there to replace moisture lost during cooking.

But the real reason supermarket meat is pumped full of saltwater is to pump money out of your wallet. Since up to 40 percent of your "meat" can be brine, $10 in chicken is really $6 in chicken and $4 in salt water.

It should be illegal, but it's not. As long as "solution added" or a similar term is on the label, it's all OK under the current rules -- even if the phrase is hidden somewhere in the fine print.

That's why you've probably never heard of this until now.

Under the proposed new rule, the added water content would have be right up front: "chicken breast -- 40% added solution" or something along those lines, right on the main label.

Of course, even if that rule makes it onto the books -- and with meat industry money at work here, who knows if it ever will -- you'll be buying salt water steaks for years to come. The USDA says the earliest any change could take place would be 2014.

But honestly, if you're still buying your meat from the supermarket, you'll never get what you pay for anyway.

Supermarket meat comes from factory farms -- festering stinkholes of filth and disease.

The brine might be the best thing in that meat, because other studies have found everything from antibiotics and other drugs to toxic heavy metals in store-bought beef. (Read more about them here.)

Buy your meat right from the farm, or at least a butcher who specializes in quality organic meats. You'll pay a lot more for it... but at least you'll get real meat for your money -- not salty water.