Remember how horrified people were to learn of the ammonia-soaked pink slime in their ground beef and fast-food burgers?
It was so bad that one company, Beef Products Inc., was forced to close several plants and file for bankruptcy after the backlash in 2012. Incidentally, BPI filed a 1.2 billion dollar lawsuit is pending against ABC for breaking the story that more than 70% of grocery store ground beef contained pink slime.
Well, in response to rising meat costs, it’s back. (Did it ever actually leave?) BPI will be manufacturing the slaughterhouse remnant product at a new plant in Kansas, and Cargill Inc. is also producing the slime.
Of course, neither company is marketing the product under the name “pink slime.” BPI calls it “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB) and Cargill calls it “finely textured beef.” That makes it sound almost fancy, doesn’t it?
The purpose of this is to continue to charge customers the same price, but to stretch the meat with the LFTB in order to lower costs for the company selling the meat. The only problem is, you are consuming byproducts that you would never ordinarily consume, and those byproducts are treated with multiple chemicals. None of this information is included on your label. In fact, according to the USDA, labels can proudly proclaim “95% Lean Ground Beef” when this product is included, and people mistakenly believe they are purchasing a high quality meat. (Keep in mind this is the same USDA with an inspector who allowed a slaughterhouse to sell meat from cows with cancer, while falsely condemning healthy beef and ripping off the farmers to the benefit of the slaughterhouse.
Sales of “Finely Textured Beef” Are Up
An exec from Cargill said that their sales of “finely textured beef” recently “have risen about threefold from their lowest point.”
The USDA (and you know how trustworthy they are) says that LFTB is really not that bad. In fact, it’s so innocuous that it doesn’t even have to be included on the label.
The United States Department of Agriculture addressed the safety of “pink slime” in a blog post on the government agency’s website in 2012: “The process used to produce LFTB is safe and has been used for a very long time. Adding LFTB to ground beef does not make that ground beef any less safe to consume.”… The USDA says the LFTB process is “generally recognized as safe” and therefore “it is not required to be included on the label of products.” The USDA also ruled that LFTB is “not filler; it is nutritionally equivalent to 95% lean beef and doesn’t contain connective tissue.” (source)
So…is FTB really that bad? Not according to Cargill:
A Cargill spokesman says “finely textured beef” is a “safe and sustainable way to maximize the amount of beef protein available for people to eat.”
…A Cargill representative told Yahoo that the company’s “finely textured beef,” available since 1993, is “100% pure beef” and “is usually added to ground beef to increase the percentage of muscle protein to fat.” The company describes the process of making this product as “similar to separating milk from cream, those small pieces of beef are separated from the fat. The fat that has been separated is turned into tallow [a form of rendered fat]. It is not added back to the ground beef.” (source)
Except, of course, when I separate milk from cream, I don’t treat the milk with ammonium hydroxide gas. Nor do I include rejected fat, sinew, and bloody effluvia from a slaughterhouse.
“Ten years ago, the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called ‘trimmings’ that were sold primarily as pet food. No more. Now, Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota transforms trimmings into something they call ‘boneless lean beef.’ In huge factories, the company liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as ‘pink slime,’ which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger.” (source)
Don’t worry. It won’t kill you with e coli, because it’s treated for your safety…with ammonium hydroxide gas and citric acid. (Don’t forget that citric acid is actually derived from genetically modified black mold!) And if you are silly enough to worry about eating ammonia and black mold, another trustworthy federal agency, the FDA, has your back there too.
The Food and Drug Administration lists ammonium hydroxide as a “safe (GRAS) human food ingredient” and acknowledges that, “Although there have been no significant feeding studies specifically designed to ascertain the safety threshold of ammonium compounds as food ingredients, numerous metabolic studies have been reported in the scientific literature. Extrapolation of these findings to the concentrations of ammonium compounds normally present in foods does not suggest that there would be untoward effects at such levels.” (source)