“it’s pink, therefore it’s meat”

That was apparently the opinion of former USDA Under Secretary Joann Smith when “pink slime” was approved as a filler in ground beef. Pink slime is even less appetizing than it sounds. Waste trimmings; think of the parts that you would never eat if you knew what they were, is heated to separate fat from muscle and then the goo is pumped through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill the bacteria. Note – that’s not prevent bacteria from forming, it’s “kill” the bacteria – so what is involved is contaminated meat being decontaminated for your eating pleasure.

The resultant filler is packaged into bricks, frozen, and shipped off to supermarkets where it used as filler in the ground beef on the grocer’s shelves. Not all grocer’s use pink slime, but there is presently no requirement that the public be informed that it is in the meat they buy.  And even if the industry labeled it, you probably wouldn’t know. In beef industry parlance it is “lean finely textured beef,” which the industry can get away with, because whatever it is, it came from a cow.

Pink slime is not just limited to beef. People buying a chicken nugget think they are buying chicken, and technically, they are, because whatever can be blasted off a chicken carcass came from a chicken. But that nugget is not meat from a chicken breast or a thigh, it’s only textured, flavored and colored to resemble what most people recognize as chicken.

When Under Secretary Joann Smith left the USDA, she joined the board of directors of Beef Products Incorporated, or BPI, coincidentally the leading manufacturer of pink slime. It seems that what’s in your ground beef isn’t the only thing that smells.



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