aka Pink Slime
Yum! Just in time for grilling season!
Yum! Just in time for grilling season!
The meat industry calls it “lean finely textured beef,” It has been called beef trimmings, and soylent pink.
But Gerald Zirnstein, a former United States Department of Agriculture scientist told ABC News that 70 percent of the ground beef found at the supermarket contains something he calls “pink slime.”
Zirnstein added, “It’s economic fraud. It’s not fresh ground beef. It’s a cheap substitute.”
Pink slime is created from waste trimmings. According to the Daily, it is made by grinding together connective tissue and beef scraps that usually land in dog food, and treating it with ammonia hydroxide to kill bacteria.
A 35-year veteran of the Food Safety Inspection Service, Carl Custer, said he first encountered the pink slime in the late 1990s. The USDA ruled that the former lean beef trimmings were edible. “Undersecretary JoAnn Smith pushed it through, and that was that,” Custer said, according to The Daily. “My main objection was that it was not meat. It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger.”
Smith had served as president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the of the National Cattlemen’s Association in her past. According to The Raw Story, she took a position on the board of directors at Beef Products, Inc., the makers of pink slime, after leaving as undersecretary in 1993.
McDonald’s announced in February that it would no longer use the pink slime, but it is still found in a number of school cafeterias.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver said, according to KCPQ, “It's cheap meat given to dogs, but after it's processed it can be given to humans.”
A USDA statement said that all ground beef purchases for the National School Lunch Program include stringent pathogen testing and compliance with applicable food safety regulations.
Pink Slime, a cheap meat filler, is in 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets and up to 25 percent of each American hamburger patty, by some estimates.
“It kind of looks like play dough,” said Kit Foshee, who was a corporate quality assurance manager at Beef Products Inc., the company that makes pink slime. “It’s pink and frozen, it’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”
As seen in the movie Food Inc., the low-grade trimmings come from the most contaminated parts of the cow and were once only used in dog food and cooking oil. But because of BPI’s treatment of the trimmings — simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs — the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.
The company calls the final product “Finely Textured Lean Beef.” It is flash frozen and boxed. Foshee says it is more like gelatin and not nutritious as ground beef because the protein comes mostly from connective tissue, not muscle meat.
“[It will] fill you up, but won’t do any good,” Foshee said.
ABC News was flooded with questions from concerned viewers following last night’s report on pink slime.
Many, like Dale Rittenhouse, wanted to know where beef with pink slime was sold.
“What stores use pink slime?” Rittenhouse wrote.
So ABC News producers traveled across the country to the meat section to see if its in the ground beef they sell. Most couldn’t tell us for sure.
“There is no way to even know from labels or even from the butchers here whether it contains pink slime,” said ABC News producer Candace Smith in New York.
“The guy at the meat counter said that he had been getting the same question all day,” said Janice McDonald in Atlanta.
ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America. Only Publix, Costco, HEB and Whole Foods responded, saying they don’t use pink slime. No word yet from the rest.
A viewer, Miles Herbert, wanted to know, “Is there any evidence that organic meat contains this pink slim?”
It turns out there isn’t. If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.
But critics say everything else is suspect because pink slime does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.