You slide into the cozy corner booth; a small candle flickers with dancing light. As you browse the menu, the jumbo burgers catch your eye. It's been a while, and just the thought of a generous, juicy burger with all the trimmings has your mouth watering. The server arrives with a killer smile, pen in hand. "I'll have the House Special Jumbo Burger," you announce happily.
"One pink slime patty coming right up!" he responds....
"Uh, actually... can you change that to the house salad?"
Pink slime... doesn't really sound like something you want to ingest. However, if you heard "lean finely textured beef" − the meat industry's name for the very same thing − you probably wouldn't bat an eyelash. So, what's in a name? Well... a lot.
The processed beef product referred to as pink slime was only found in pet food and cooking oil before 2001. Then in 2001, it was approved for "limited human consumption" and added to ground beef and some processed meats (not to exceed 25% percent of total product). Factories mixed beef scraps, along with fat and cartilage, in a centrifuge. As part of the process, the beefy combo was then squirted with a puff of ammonia (to fight bacteria)... and ultimately added to ground beef as filler.
The following eloquent explanation was published in the May, 2012 issue of Mary Jane's Farm Magazine: "Ten years ago, the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called 'trimmings' that were sold primarily as pet food. No more. Now, Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota transforms trimmings into something they call 'boneless lean beef.' In huge factories, the company liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as 'pink slime,' which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger."
It wasn't until 2002 when a microbiologist was identifying the properties of ground beef (what is it really made of??) that he classified and referred to this additive as pink slime.
When ABC did a series of reports on the controversial additive (which had previously been classified as meat), the media and public(!) went wild. According to reports, 70% of ground beef sold in supermarkets in the US is pretty (or not so pretty) in pink slime. Consumers were outraged and where some businesses immediately stopped providing ground beef with pink slime, others did not...
Here are some interesting statistics:
The following supermarket chains say they do not carry products with pink slime:
The pink slime uproar is really about staying informed. Bottom line is we need to know what is in the food we purchase so we can make informed, educated decisions. And comprehensive, accurate product labels would be a great start... Check out my book on Amazon "Eat Clean, Live Free", to be in the know.