Have you heard about “pink slime” lately? Do you know what it is? You should. According to a number of news reports, pink slime is a “filler” that can be found in approximately 70% of hamburger meat that is sold in supermarkets.
Pink slime is produced by grinding together low-grade trimmings like connective tissue, cow intestines, and beef scraps that would normally be destined for dog food and rendering. (Such trimmings are said to come from the parts of the cow that are highly exposed to fecal matter.) The ground concoction is then simmered in low heat in a centrifuge in order to separate fat and tissue and treated with ammonia-hydroxide to kill pathogens, including salmonella and E. Coli. “The resulting pinkish substance is later blended into traditional ground beef and hamburger patties.” The United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.
Kit Foshee, who was once a corporate quality manager at BPI–a company that manufactures pink slime–said of the substance, “It kind of looks like Play-Doh. It’s pink and frozen. It’s not what the typical person would consider meat.” Foshee claims that he was fired by BPI after he had complained “about the process used to make the filler, and the company’s claims about it.”
Because the FDA considers ammonia to be a processing agent, it’s not required to be listed as an ingredient on food labels.
Pink Slime – What is REALLY in your Hamburger – ABCNews.com
‘Pink Slime’ Outrage: Beef Industry Responds
Pink Slime in School Lunches
The Daily reported that 7,000,000 pounds of this “beef” product “have been scheduled as part of school lunch programs” in this country. In fact, nearly 7% of the ground beef used in school lunches will have been treated with ammonium-hydroxide.
Two microbiologists who formerly worked for the Food Safety Inspection Service think the continued purchase of pink slime for school lunches “makes no sense.” Gerald Zirnstein, one of the microbiologists, told The Daily that he wouldn’t want his son, who is now two-years-old, eating it when he starts going to school. Zirnstein coined the term “pink slime” after he toured a BPI facility in 2002 when he was conducting “an investigation into salmonella contamination in packaged ground beef.”
Retired microbiologist Carl Custer said that the treated beef trimmings were originally called “soylent pink.” He added, “We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”
Note: US schools, agricultural and health authorities don’t call beef trimmings treated with ammonium-hydroxide “pink slime.” They call it “lean fine textured beef.”
Dr. John Torres said that “ammonia does not cause a major health risk to our bodies.” He said he was “more concerned about the possible E. coli and salmonella that could still exist in the beef by-products, even after the chemical treatment.” Torres added that these chemically-treated by-products don’t contain the same amount of nutrients as pure-ground beef. He continued, “It’s one of those things, “Do I want my child to have this? On a short-term, moderate basis: maybe. On a long-term basis: no.”
Note: In January, three fast-food chains—McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King–decided to stop using “pink slime” in their products after pressure from Jamie Oliver, a celebrity chef.
‘Pink Slime’ eliminated from fast food, going to school lunches
Where Your Beef Burger Comes From
The “Pink Slime” in Your Kid’s School Lunch (Mother Jones)
Pink Slime Found In 70% Of Supermarket Ground Beef In ABC Investigation (Huffington Post)
Pink Slime Criticism Is Overblown, Say Some Food Safety Advocates (Huffington Post)
Where You Can Get ‘Pink-Slime’-Free Beef (ABC News)
Pink Slime – Good Enough For School Meals, Not McDonald’s (Medical News Today)
‘Pink slime’ beef additive is used in CISD school lunches (Your Houston News)