Pink Slime? What’s That?
This product is actually called ammoniated boneless lean beef trimmings. Still not sure? This is the cheapest, least desirable beef on offer – fatty sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor, which are notoriously rife with pathogens like E. coli 0157 and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. Once swept up, the scraps are sent through a series of machines, which grinds them into a paste, separates out the fat, and laces the substance with ammonia to kill pathogens.
Sounds Tasty? It Gets Better!
The USDA allows this ammonia treated meat to enter the marketplace and with no labeling requirement on the packaging to inform the consumer that the meat they are about to buy contains ammonia. It is used to stretch the actual ground beef, and the USDA shockingly allows up to 15 percent of a ground beef product to be this filler and still be labeled ground beef.
On the premier of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” the British chef showed how “nasty pink slime,” as one FDA microbiologist calls it, is wrung in a centrifuge to remove the fat from the meat scraps, and then treated with ammonia to “retard spoilage,” and turned into “a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips”. You can view his show clicking here.
So if you are eating a burger, there’s a good chance that you are also eating Pink Slime. How yummy is that?
Some Ammonia With That Burger?
According to a New York Times article, The “majority of hamburger” now sold in the U.S. now contains fatty slaughterhouse trimmings “the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil,” “typically including most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass” that contains “larger microbiological populations.”
McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone. And since the USDA considers it a “process”, Ammonia doesn’t have to be listed on the packaging as a separate ingredient!
How to Avoid Eating Pink Slime
The easiest way is to stop eating beef. Otherwise, the only way to keep the beef trimmings out of your own meals is to know where your beef comes from. Avoiding fast food burgers is a good start, although restaurant food isn’t necessarily slime-free. Avoid prepackaged ground beef in the grocery store, especially in a major chain.
Alternatively, eat grass-fed beef.. Unlike ammonia treated beef, grass-fed beef is clearly labeled and contains no ammonia.
Photo Credit: chichacha via Creative Commons