Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What is Pink Slime?

Pink slime has been in the news a lot lately. Which grocery stores sell it? What fast-food chains use it? Will certain public schools use it in school lunches?

So what is pink slime? First off, they're not talking about pink algae which is sometimes seen in swimming pools and called pink slime by some.  The official name is "Boneless lean beef trimmings". When a cow is butchered, there are leftover trimmings of meat mixed with a lot of fat and connective tissue. The meat industry used to cook the trimmings to render out the oil to make some profit from it. Then in 1990, Eldon Roth, founder of a frozen beef company called Beef Products Inc (BPI) had an idea.

The trimmings are finely ground and then spun in a high speed centrifuge to separate out the fat from the meat. The meat is squeezed through a tube the size of a pencil and exposed to ammonia gas to kill any pathogens such as E. coli. At the end of the process, the beef is at least 90 percent lean. It is used in meat supplies across the US, usually mixed in with normal hamburger upto 25% of the content.

Some people find the process objectionable and coined the derogatory term, pink slime. Other health experts credit the process for reducing the risk of E. coli infections.

Bottom Line

The sad part about the whole thing is that no labeling is required to indicate that Boneless lean beef trimmings were used. It may be perfectly safe but there's no way to opt out as an informed consumer except for giving up all hamburger.

And least people get into a huff over this, look closely at chicken and hams at grocery stores. Many have water and chemicals injected for "preservatives" but also to add weight and cost. Last week I noticed that a 5-gallon bottled water contained chemicals on the ingredients listing? Why?! For preservatives and minerals it claimed.

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