Monday, March 12, 2012

What is "Pink Slime"?

A product the industry calls "lean, finely textured meat" has been a fixture in the ground beef served in the free school lunch program and fast food hamburgers for years. But after Chef Jamie Oliver demonstrated how "pink slime" is made on his TV show last year, and media reports suggested it may not be as safe as the government claims, alarm among consumers began surging.

This excerpt was taken from a recent NPR article that discusses both the bacterial health hazards of pink slime, as well as the process of making it supposedly safe for human consumption.  As is the case with so many industrial food products, at the root of the issue it all comes down to price.  Despite all the processing, pink slime is slightly cheaper than regular ground beef, and so is a significant component in free school lunches and much of the ground beef that's sold in grocery stores.  As consumers, however, we can't know for sure what ground beef has it and what doesn't, because the packages are not required to be labeled.

Sound familiar?  It should.  The recent initiative to label pink slime on ground beef is not entirely dissimilar from our efforts to label Genetically Modified Organisms.  It all comes back to us as consumers having a right to know what's in our food. We should not have to pay extra to have ground beef ground up in front of us so that we can know for sure that it doesn't contain ammonia treated trimmings.  We should not have to assume that every non-organic product that contains corn or soybeans has GMOs because we can't know for sure.  Proper labeling is necessary in order to make informed food choices, and being able to make those informed choices is our right.

To learn more about what I meant above by "ammonia treated trimmings", check out this video with Chef Jamie Oliver that explains the process behind pink slime.

Have a great afternoon,

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this summary, Melissa. I was actually a little unclear on exactly what the process was. The Jamie Oliver video definitely shed some light on it!