Have you guys heard about Pink Slime? Apparently, I am new to the outrage. It is an unappetizing appearing concoction created with leftover beef trimmings. These trimmings were formerly only used in dog food because of their likelihood of containing e coli.In the 1990s, an industrial process was created to run the trimmings through a centrifuge (to separate the fat) and treat it with a “puff” of ammonia gas which increases the pH and kills bacteria. The resulting product is called boneless lean beef trimmings or pink slime. This is then used as filler in ground beef. It looks pretty gross, but to be fair, raw hamburger, itself, isnt real appetizing.
The American Beef Institute says “The fact is, BPI’s Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) is beef. The beef trimmings that are used to make BLBT are absolutely edible. In fact, no process can somehow make inedible meat edible; it’s impossible. In reality, the BLBT production process simply removes fat and makes the remaining beef more lean and suited to a variety of beef products that satisfy consumers’ desire for leaner foods. In fact, BLBT is a sustainable product because it recovers lean meat that would otherwise be wasted. The beef industry is proud to efficiently produce as much lean meat as possible from the cattle we raise. It’s the right thing to do and it ensures that our products remain as affordable as we can make them while helping to feed America and the world.”
And the USDA says it is safe: “All USDA ground beef purchases must meet the highest standards for food safety,” the agency said in a statement. “USDA has strengthened ground beef food safety standards in recent years and only allows products into commerce that we have confidence are safe.”
Pink Slime is in apparently 70% of all ground beef sold in supermarkets. It is in the National School Lunch Program though McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King have announced that they will no longer use the filling. Here is the kicker for me… it is not required to be identified on food packaging. Is Pink Slime probably ok to ingest, I am leaning toward yes, but still, consumers should be able to make that decision for themselves and avoid it. If I was in the 30% of ground beef sellers that didn’t use it, I would put giant stickers on all my beef “Pink Slime FREE.” I would then charge an extra dollar per pound for the sticker. Haha. Capitalism at work. You can read a review of the taste of a pink slime infused burger versus a burger sans pink slime here.
By the way, my grandfather was a cattle farmer. When you go to the cattle sale, if the cow is young and healthy, another cattle farmer buys it. If it is old and decrepit, it is purchased for meat. If you ever have the chance to buy meat from a farmer who has “fed it out” (in either grass or corn (with most farmers it will be both) but grass is leaner) for his personal consumption, jump on the opportunity. It is soooo much better.