I know, I know. Eww. It’s not good any way you look at it.
Earth Week is right around the corner and I think it’s the perfect time for the pink slime controversy to have come to public attention. If you haven’t watched the ABC News reports, I’ll sum it up. Basically, microbiologists came up with a process to clean up the more unsavory parts of the cow, the scraps and unmentionables that no one really wants to eat…or very few people want to eat.
These parts have pretty much stayed off of our radar for the most part because they have never been very safe to eat. They are notoriously effective at transmitting diseases and containing bacteria. Some enterprising entrepreneurs came together to create a process to clean these scraps for mass human consumption…and this process involves removing these edible scraps through a mechanized process and cleaning them with…you guessed it, an ammonia-zed mixture. The result was promoted as lean finely texturized beef and the USDA approved it. It doesn’t look like any beef I’ve ever seen. It looks more like strawberry soft-serve…or maybe sherbet.
One plucky USDA microbiologist coined this material pink slime. Of course, who would buy this product? I wouldn’t, but retailers, public school systems, fast food companies and other entities that want to decrease their budgets would…and have. Americans who eat ground beef from local grocery stores, in schools, etc. have been downing the stuff pretty regularly. The average pound of ground beef from the grocery store could contain up to 15% of this pink slime and be able to be marketed as 100% beef and ABC News found that 70% of publicly available ground beef contained the filler. This filler is banned in both Canada and the UK.
Thanks to shows like ABC News and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, the public outcry against the filler has reached critical mass and retailers, public school systems, and fast food companies have stepped up to eliminate it from their products. Locally, Spartan Stores, Costco and Meijer have confirmed that they do not sell or will no longer sell beef containing the filler in their stores.