It’s earned the nickname, “Pink Slime,” a form of meat that was originally found in dog food, and now it’s being fed to your kids in school lunches. Officially called, Lean Finely Textured Beef, the process has caused outraged among parents and critics alike.
Gerald Zirnstein, a former microbiologist with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in an ABC News report, “It’s not fresh ground beef. … It’s a cheap substitute being added in.” He also reports that “pink slime” is in 70 percent of ground beef sold at supermarkets.
So how exactly is this concoction made?
You start with a beef trim, which is pretty much the waste, lower grade meat, left over from the premium cuts, such as steak.
Then you simmer these lower grade trimmings at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spin the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation. This creates a lean meat, approximately 94-97% lean, according to Beef Products Inc.
After it’s sprayed down with some ammonia gas to kill bacteria, it is chunk it into bricks, frozen, shipped and then added to ground beef at supermarkets.
A Food Safety News article does a very good job at explaining the process and offering the other side of the story, which is that this “pink slime” is safe and acceptable.
We live in a capitalistic society, I get that businesses exploit consumers and try and maximize profits with a cheaper substitute. It’s business. But what bothers me is the lack of labeling. As consumers, we have a right to know what exactly is in the products we’re buying. Both the ammonia gas treatment and the “pink slime” are exempt from being required to be on the label.
When I go to the grocery store, I want to know that the lean meat I am buying is made up of more choice cuts of meat. It’s deceptive and I’m paying for something that I don’t want and for something that I think I am getting, but am not.
Let the consumer’s decide what they would rather by. We can vote with our purchases.
Below are some comments I found interesting while reading the Food Safety News article:
By Holiday: Yeah…just because something can be processed and chemically treated to the point where it may be “safe to eat”, doesn’t mean we (or our kids) should be eating it. These are some things I can think of off the top of my head that could also go on this apparently “safe to eat” list: dirt, sand, grass, cigarette butts, cork, wood pulp, toenail clippings, hair, ashes, dandruff, crayons…what else could we add here???
By Eucritta: While there may not be anything specifically unhealthful about pink slime it’s added to ground beef without the label specifying that inclusion. Thus, it’s deceptive.It’s also not necessary. There was, at least, some excuse for filled milk, in that it could be shipped to remote areas with dodgy refrigeration. But pink slime filled ground beef? It’s not inherently more resistant or healthful post-production, it just allows processors a chance to make a greater profit on an unappetizing product that previously went into pet foods, while making already cheap ground beef a bit cheaper all ’round. So – label it. Let us choose. Some won’t care; some will care and buy it anyway; and those of us who want to avoid it, can spot it and do so easily.
By Jen: If you want the government to pay for your kids to eat prime cuts of meat, fine. But I’d rather that be something parents did at home for their children. The meat they serve in school lunches is not less healthy, it is just less APPEALING to most people. Kids eat hot dogs and bologna all the time, and those are certainly no less gross than ammoniated beef trimmings.