Nutrition News: Pink Slime

by in Food News, Food Safety, April 12, 2012
ground beef
Is there pink slime in this beef?

A microbiologist who worked for the USDA let the cat out of the bag about something the food industry has been doing for years. What’s your take on the food issue everyone’s talking about: pink slime?

What is Pink Slime?
Tiny traces of meat left on beef carcasses are heated, picked, then bathed in ammonia to kill off any bacteria. These meat scraps dubbed “lean finely textured beef” (aka pink slime) are then mixed with ground beef prior to packaging to bulk up portions. Until recently, pink slimed beef was gobbled down by anyone who consumed ground beef from a fast food joint, grocery store or school cafeteria.

The meat industry defends that pink slime is in fact meat. The government says these ammonia-sprayed foods are safe to eat, but that doesn’t make the chemical-treated meat any more appetizing to many consumers.

In the wake of this negative publicity, many supermarkets and others in the food industry have publicly outcast pink slime. Meanwhile the company responsible for producing it filed chapter 11 on April 2nd.

Is pink slime as dangerous and disgusting as it sounds? Should it be in our food? There are things to consider on both sides of the issue:

•    Use of pink slime helps keep the cost of beef down.
•    The downfall of pink slime has cost some Americans their jobs.
•    Pink slime-filled meats are currently in school lunches.
•    Until now consumers had no way of knowing if it was in their food or not.

Some of these issues are already being resolved. For example, going forward schools will get to choose whether or not they want to use it.

On the other side of things, maybe we can save money and avoid pink slime at the same time. The USDA’s MyPlate guidelines suggest eating a more plant-based diet; Americans eat currently eat too much red meat. Eating less (pink slime free) ground beef might be a win-win.

Bottom Line: Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. And even if chemically treated meat is dubbed safe by the government, do you want to eat it?

Tell Us: How do you feel about pink slime?

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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (1,018)

  1. […] Read at source website […]

  2. Patti says:

    OK, so if the description of pink slime is "Tiny traces of meat left on beef carcasses" and that meat is "heated" and "picked" off the bones, I have no issue with that as it is using the whole beast, right? We pick up pork cop bones and chicken legs at home and pick the tasty bits off the bones at home, right? but what's the deal with the ammonia? Isn't that toxic? Why if it's heated (ie cooked) does it need this extra bath in poison?

    • LeiFel says:

      I agree with you on all counts. I think the company that creates the product should have made a statement upfront, as soon as they got wind there might be issues. Then they could have labeled it differently and thus avoided the chapter 11. The use of the phrase "pink slime" is a real put off, I could think up a few better names than that. Beef Filler or something like that. Really, the things people eat knowingly, I don't know why it's such a huge issue. The ammonia issue is one I would like to see more information on.

  3. […] the original here: Nutrition News: Pink Slime This entry was posted in Food Network and tagged dubbed, food, government, industry, issue, […]

  4. Melissa says:

    Interesting article on whether or not the panic over pink slime is justified:

  5. tomcother74 says:

    What we have all been exposed to with this "pink slime" coverage is a classic example of media sensationalism aimed at ratings and not based on facts. Now some clear facts here. The only differences between the trimmings used to make ground beef, as the consumer recognizes it, and the trimmings used to make LFTB is the lean beef to fat ratio. LFTB starts by using higher fat trimmings. To achieve the higher lean ground beef that we all desire economically, the lean is separated from the fat and the lean is added back into the ground beef. Nutritionally equal or even improved due to higher lean content. On to the subject of ammonia hydroxide. The association of ammonia used as a cleaning agent is very misleading. After the lean beef is separated from the high fat trimmings. Food grade ammonia gas, which is naturally occurring in many foods including beef, is used to slightly elevate the ph of the product. Elevating the ph of the beef creates an environment that is unfriendly to bacteria. So the intent here is truly food safety. Next, I have seen a lot of back and forth about labeling. This is a tough one. There are some questions that have been posed many times. Do you label it ground beef with lean beef added? Or, do you put on the label ammonia used to elevate the level of already existing ammonia? Contrary to what many might believe, this debate has been going on throughout for quite some time. The next thing we should be asking ourselves is, who's going to suffer? Well, simple economics will tell us we, as consumers, will pay more at the meat counter due to the lose of lean beef in the market place. I would encourage that we all do some research for ourselves and not buy into the media hype. A well informed consumer now has the tools to, and will, make good choices.

    • George from UC says:

      Some more clear facts: pH increase is from 6.0 to _at least_ 10.5 which is not "slightly elevate" but close to a 32 thousand fold increase in OH ions (alkalinity). Source: BPI's patent #6387426.
      It is NOT "Nutritionally equal" since multiple studies, even ones commissioned by BPI, show more collagen and other connective tissue (low-quality protein) and less myofibrillar protein (high quality). Source : A.S. Leaflet R1361
      As for labeling, you label it "ground beef with ammoniated meat product added" (BPI's own term in above patent).
      I hope this gives well informed consumers more tools to make good choices.

    • Rose P says:

      Are you a spokesman for the pink slime industry?

  6. Vivianne says:

    Thank you for posting this! Too many people don't want to know what goes into their food. They are in denial. It’s a FACT that it is about time that we all “Live BEYOND Organic!” It is wonderful of you to share this information with the world! I really love what Jordan Rubin is doing with his new food company called “Beyond Organic.” No Pink Slime Here:

    Health and Blessings!

  7. Guest says:

    What's next: Soylent Green?

  8. […] Healthy … What's your take on the food issue everyone's talking about: pink slime?…/nutrition-news-pink-slim…Source: Google Alerts – nutritionGroup Health Insurance jQuery(document).ready(function($) { var […]

  9. Guest says:

    it's not just pink slime that gets sprayed with ammonia, most beef from the major packing plants in the states do it to all the meat. it's a necessity since the last few weeks of their lives beef cattle stand in front of feeding troughs of corn and essentially knee deep in their own waste.

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