Pink Slime is an ammonia-infused additive that the US federal government has approved to be mixed in with ground beef to make real beef stretch further.
Jamie Oliver's demonstration on the premier of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" filmed in Los Angeles and aired on April 12, 2011, showed how "nasty pink slime," as one FDA microbiologist calls it, is wrung in a centrifuge to remove the fat from the meat scraps, and then treated with ammonia to "retard spoilage," and turned into "a mash-like substance frozen into blocks or chips".
What is Pink Slime
"Pink slime" (ammoniated boneless lean beef trimmings) is the nickname earned by a formerly inedible byproduct of the beef industry. Once used in pet food, it's now a cheap additive in ground beef. Pink Slime is an additive that the federal government has approved to be mixed in with ground beef. To make "real" beef stretch further, manufacturers can use this ammonia-infused beef as up to 15 percent of the product. Pink slime is now an additive in 70% of the ground beef in the U.S., which means that if you're eating a burger, there's a good chance you're also eating Pink Slime.
According to a New York Times article, The "majority of hamburger" now sold in the U.S. now contains fatty slaughterhouse trimmings "the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil," "typically including most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass" that contains "larger microbiological populations."
With the U.S.D.A.'s stamp of approval, the company's processed beef has become a mainstay in America's hamburgers. McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone. And since the USDA considers it a "process", Ammonia doesn't have to be listed on the packaging as a separate ingredient!
What Does Pink Slime Consist of
Grist's Tom Philpott explains pink slime this way: it's "the cheapest, least desirable beef on offer - fatty sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor, which are notoriously rife with pathogens like E. coli 0157 and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. (Beef Products, Inc. or BPI) sends the scraps through a series of machines, grinds them into a paste, separates out the fat, and laces the substance with ammonia to kill pathogens."
What Companies Use Ammoniated Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings
According to the manufacturer Beef Products Inc. in South Dakota, if you're eating a hamburger, odds are very high that it includes their product. Producing more than 7 million pounds a week, the product is included in fast-food burgers and retail packages of ground beef. With the U.S.D.A.'s stamp of approval, the company's processed beef has become a mainstay in America's hamburgers. McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.
The USDA allows this ammonia treated meat to enter the marketplace and with no labeling requirement on the packaging to inform the consumer that the meat they are about to buy contains ammonia. This is certainly a rude awakening to the majority of Americans that don't know where the meat in their fridge, the meat in their conventional local grocery store, the meat in their fast food hamburger, and the meat in their restaurant made hamburger comes from.
How to Avoid Eating Pink Slime
The only way to keep the beef trimmings out of your own meals is to know where your beef comes from. Avoiding fast food burgers is a good start, since BPI uses the additive in ground beef for the fast food industry. Hotel and restaurant food isn't necessarily slime-free though. Avoid prepackaged ground beef in the grocery store, especially in a major chain and ask your favorite burger joint where they get their ground beef. No matter the size of your town or city, grass fed beef (real beef) is not out of reach. Unlike ammonia treated beef, grass fed beef is clearly labeled and contains no ammonia.