Remember how horrified people were to learn of the ammonia-soaked pink slime in their ground beef and fast-food burgers?
It was so bad that one company, Beef Products Inc., was forced to close several plants and file for bankruptcy after the backlash in 2012. Incidentally, BPI filed a 1.2 billion dollar lawsuit is pending against ABC for breaking the story that more than 70% of grocery store ground beef contained pink slime.
Well, in response to rising meat costs, it’s back. (Did it ever actually leave?) BPI will be manufacturing the slaughterhouse remnant product at a new plant in Kansas, and Cargill Inc. is also producing the slime.
Of course, neither company is marketing the product under the name “pink slime.” BPI calls it “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB) and Cargill calls it “finely textured beef.” That makes it sound almost fancy, doesn’t it?
The purpose of this is to continue to charge customers the same price, but to stretch the meat with the LFTB in order to lower costs for the company selling the meat. The only problem is, you are consuming byproducts that you would never ordinarily consume, and those byproducts are treated with multiple chemicals. None of this information is included on your label. In fact, according to the USDA, labels can proudly proclaim “95% Lean Ground Beef” when this product is included, and people mistakenly believe they are purchasing a high quality meat. (Keep in mind this is the same USDA with an inspector who allowed a slaughterhouse to sell meat from cows with cancer, while falsely condemning healthy beef and ripping off the farmers to the benefit of the slaughterhouse.)
Sales of “Finely Textured Beef” Are Up
An exec from Cargill said that their sales of “finely textured beef” recently “have risen about threefold from their lowest point.”
The USDA (and you know how trustworthy they are) says that LFTB is really not that bad. In fact, it’s so innocuous that it doesn’t even have to be included on the label.
The United States Department of Agriculture addressed the safety of “pink slime” in a blog post on the government agency’s website in 2012: “The process used to produce LFTB is safe and has been used for a very long time. Adding LFTB to ground beef does not make that ground beef any less safe to consume.”… The USDA says the LFTB process is “generally recognized as safe” and therefore “it is not required to be included on the label of products.” The USDA also ruled that LFTB is “not filler; it is nutritionally equivalent to 95% lean beef and doesn’t contain connective tissue.” (source)
So…is FTB really that bad? Not according to Cargill:
A Cargill spokesman says “finely textured beef” is a “safe and sustainable way to maximize the amount of beef protein available for people to eat.”
…A Cargill representative told Yahoo that the company’s “finely textured beef,” available since 1993, is “100% pure beef” and “is usually added to ground beef to increase the percentage of muscle protein to fat.” The company describes the process of making this product as “similar to separating milk from cream, those small pieces of beef are separated from the fat. The fat that has been separated is turned into tallow [a form of rendered fat]. It is not added back to the ground beef.” (source)
Except, of course, when I separate milk from cream, I don’t treat the milk with ammonium hydroxide gas. Nor do I include rejected fat, sinew, and bloody effluvia from a slaughterhouse.
“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.” (source)
Don’t worry. It won’t kill you with e coli, because it’s treated for your safety…with ammonium hydroxide gas and citric acid. (Don’t forget that citric acid is actually derived from genetically modified black mold!) And if you are silly enough to worry about eating ammonia and black mold, another trustworthy federal agency, the FDA, has your back there too.
The Food and Drug Administration lists ammonium hydroxide as a “safe (GRAS) human food ingredient” and acknowledges that, “Although there have been no significant feeding studies specifically designed to ascertain the safety threshold of ammonium compounds as food ingredients, numerous metabolic studies have been reported in the scientific literature. Extrapolation of these findings to the concentrations of ammonium compounds normally present in foods does not suggest that there would be untoward effects at such levels.” (source)
How can you avoid pink slime?
If you, for some strange reason, would like to omit rejected fat, sinew, and bloody effluvia from your family’s diet, here are a few tips:
Build a relationship with a local butcher shop. Most butcher shops will grind meat for you from cuts that you select. Generally there is no additional charge for this.
Grind your own. You can get an electric meat grinder, a manual meat grinder,or an attachment for a stand mixer. This way you choose exactly what you want ground up. With a grinder you can also make your own sausages without the sketchy ingredients found in commercial sausage.
Don’t buy ground meat that has been packaged elsewhere. Those “chubs” of ground meat may be less expensive, but they are very likely to contain things you would rather not consume.
Buy cuts of meat instead of ground meat. If you buy a roast or a steak, you won’t get the additives. However, you should be aware that some meats are still treated with chemicals to prolong the shelf life or the appearance.
Buy farm-direct. You can often make a large bulk purchase and buy a quarter or half a cow. If you have a relationship with the farmer from whence it comes, that’s even better, because you can assure yourself of the conditions in which the animal was raised and what it was fed. (Eat Local Grown has a directory to help you find local food.)
Raise your own meat. I’m not talking about having a cow on your balcony if you live in an apartment. However, if you are in the ‘burbs, rabbits and chickens can be raised in even a small backyard. I feel much less guilt about eating a humanely raised animal than I do about supporting the horrific conditions in CAFOs, where livestock is routinely tortured, crammed into spaces where they can’t move, and fed heaven-knows-what. (Watch this video to see Melissa and Aaron’s report on a local CAFO – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.) When you raise your own meat, you are in complete control of what you’re eating. I realize this option is not for everyone.
Eat less meat or none at all. Some people have opted to go vegetarian or at least eat more vegetarian meals in order to avoid these unsavory ingredients and to vote with their dollars against the horrible conditions of factory-farmed livestock.
Be mindful when dining out. When you eat at a restaurant, the lower the price of your ground beef item, the more likely it is to contain pink slime. Fast food restaurants are notorious for this. Some restaurants pride themselves on high quality ingredients or are even farm-to-table. You could also opt for chicken, fish, or a vegetarian dish. (This will only help you avoid pink slime, though – there are other pitfalls to inexpensive restaurant meat, but that’s another article.)
How do you feel about pink slime?
How do you avoid eating meat by-products? Do the attitudes of the USDA and FDA about this matter concern you?
Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months
Find local food at Eat Local Grown
3 thoughts on “On a Budget? Pink Slime is Back to Save You Money!”
Were I live I only buy fresh ground water buffalo from the store down the street, And cubed water buffalo some with bone to presure cook and make soup from. Beef is such a high class imported meat for show off times here. As far as warer buffalo steak bring your own saw. A frim meat very lean.
Two words sums up that garbage…Crohns Disease.
I love the “McSlime Value Meal”, supersized.