Thursday, March 29, 2012

And Now I'm Vegetarian: Pink Slime

The warm weather has me thinking about summer and barbeques.  What tastes better than a burger, grilled to succulent perfection?  Toasted sesame seed bun, pickles, ketchup.  I'm excited just thinking about it!

Until I watched the Daily show last night.

Jon Stewart talked about something called Pink Slime.  He began with a clip from ABC News:

"70% of the ground beef we buy at the supermarket contains...'pink slime'.  Beef trimmings that were once used only in dog food and cooking oil, now sprayed with ammonia to make them safe to eat." 

Dog food.  Ammonia.  Ground beef.  Those are 3 things that shouldn't be next to each other in writing, let alone real life.  But what actually is pink slime?  Where does it come from? 

"When you've broken down a whole beast, you're left with trimmings...In this form, this is inedible.  Why?  Because it's the outside of the meat in the cavity where the guts are.  It's full of anything from salmonella, e. coli, different stuff like that." - "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution"

These "bits" are then taken to a rendering plant where the fats are split from the meat.  It is washed with ammonia to kill the lethal bacteria strains and then ground up.  The USDA allows companies to use up to 15% of this byproduct (dubbed "lean finely textured beef" in the industry).

The good news is that companies are pulling away from using Pink Slime.   Grocery stories and fast food restaurants are pulling "contaminated" items from their shelves.

"Pink Slime.  That's too fake for McDonald's!" - Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show"

How can you be sure your meat is Pink Slime free?  Try grinding your own!  You can pick up a meat grinder for around $50 and control how much ground beef you make then use any of your scraps for a stew!  Waste not, want not!  (This post may force me to pick up the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid.)

Further reading: Associated Press
Photo Credit: MPR News

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