Have You Eaten Pink Slime?

“Pink Slime” are trimmings that come from the parts of a cow most susceptible to contamination due to exposure to fecal matter, and was not considered fit for human consumption years ago.  Unfortunately the U.S. food industry found a solution that involved “treating” these trimmings with ammonia gas to kill germs.   Despite consumer concerns, the United States Department of Agriculture refused to stop this practice or at least make companies identify this process on food labels until a recent uproar due to ABC news coverage and this online petition.

The uproar concerned the use of pink slime in school lunches, which is a major problem, but it’s an issue that affects everybody.  One of my favorite recipes is ragu sauce with ground beef.  Luckily I’ve been choosing the organic ground beef and this confirms organic is the safer way to go.  Still, according to the ABC news video I saw, while organic is probably safe, the safest option is watching the butcher grind the beef for you.   The good thing is that major retailers are finally beginning to act in response to consumer demands.   

So far, the following have agreed to stop carrying products with pink slime:

  • Safeway
  • SUPERVALU, which operates Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy
  • Food Lion
  • Walmart
  • Sam’s Club

Pink slime is NOT in ground turkey or chicken, so I may start using that for my meat sauces and hamburgers.   Those are healthier options anyway!   Pink slime  is also in some processed meats.

3 responses to “Have You Eaten Pink Slime?

  1. Gah, yuck. This totally disgusts me and because of this story I’ve sworn off the cheaper hamburger in the tubes from here on out. Luckily our market of choice, Kroger, has just sworn off pink slime as well.

    But stories like this make me wonder if the government (FDA/EPA) really gives a crap about us and the earth at all? Stupid question, right?

  2. In-N-Out has the best tasting burgers.. and no pink slime at all!

  3. Pink slime is totally gross… but I really can’t grok people who think it’s *that* much grosser than hamburgers in general. Really?
    Ammonia gas sounds horrible and everything, but really so does food irradiation and that’s perfectly safe (perhaps undesirable in some ways, but not dangerous to consume treated food).
    Also, I’m working for a food science department as a microbiologist these days, so I can promise you that organic meat has plenty of microbes. But steaks have a lot less than hamburgers. If money is an issue, you’d probably be safer from microbes with conventionally prepared steak than organic hamburger. Before I started seeing the data, I assumed that was true but I reasoned that if the microbes that do make it through conventionally prepared steaks are more antibiotic resistant, and that’s worth avoiding. But now I’m seeing some data that the organic farms definitely get the antibiotic resistance (just as doctors that don’t over-prescribe antibiotics still get patients with resistant bugs). So I think it’s still good to buy organic (because if everybody did, we might see less resistance), but not because it’s safer to you personally. In related news: there is no such thing as healthy and nitrite free bacon. And hamburgers are always gross.

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