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Pink Slime Exposed to the Light

“Pink slime” is the slang term for “lean, finely textured beef,” the leftovers (“trimmings”) from butchering the cow.

It was in the news last Fall when the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the National School Lunch Program would be allowed to drop “pink slime.”

Pink slime is the result of spinning heated trimmings in centrifuges to remove the fat. The resulting paste is then treated with ammonia gas to increase the pH and thereby kill pathogens like e. Coli. Afterwards the extrusion is sold as filler for ground beef, which at least one newspaper story[1] says makes up as much as 25% of the ground beef that was sold in supermarkets.

But then Jamie Oliver got on the case.

The celebrity chef & gadfly has been instrumental in bringing opprobrium onto pink slime, though no health issues have been linked to the process.

Surprisingly, the USDA does not require stores to tell consumers about the filler, even though some of its own scientists have objected. Now the glare of publicity has caused the Delhaize Group, Safeway and Supervalu to pull pink slime. Delhaize’s banners include Food Lion and Hannaford Bros., while Supervalu also owns the Shaw’s/Star Market, Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, and Jewel-Osco banners among others. Safeway operates Genuardi’s and Dominicks chains. McDonald’s has already said it will no longer use ammonia-treated meats.

The publicity has made consumers think floor cleaner was being mixed with the beef trimmings. Of course, no one has raised any issues about the way supermarkets make their beef look nice and red.

Exposing it to carbon monoxide.



[1] Source: the Washington Post.

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