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Pink Slime (UGH!) - What are the safe brands?

In light of the expose about supermarkets and restaurants adding pink slime to their ground beef, are any hounds familiar with chains (both supermarkets and restaurants) that do NOT use pink slime in their beef? And does this trend extend to ground turkey (which suddenly seems MUCH more appealing!)

This expose was in the US - Do you hounds in other countries find that this happens there or are rules more stringent in your domiciles?

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  1. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines...

    Among large grocery chains, Costco, Kroger, Publix, and Whole Foods verify they DO NOT use pink slime.

    2 Replies
    1. re: beachmouse

      It's interesting (and welcome) that Kroger, in my experience a relatively budget-minded chain, doesn't use it.

      We should use this thread to clarify which chains DO use it, too, no?

      I shop mainly at a good regional chain in northern Indiana (Martin's Supermarkets), and they say that their suppliers don't use it. Doesn't surprise me, because they also don't sell "enhanced" pork.

      1. re: Bada Bing

        Actually not all of the ground meat products at Kroger are free from pink slime. I emailed them yesterday about this very topic and here is the response I received from their consumer affairs area:

        Thank you for contacting The Kroger Company. We appreciate your inquiry regarding our Meat additives. Our Private Selection Ground Meats and meats sold from our meat counter in store are free of "Pink Slime" (ammonium hydroxide), yet this guarantee cannot be placed on our Kroger Brand or Kroger Value Ground Beef. The ground beef you find at your local Kroger has been purchased from USDA-approved suppliers who are required to follow all federal guidelines during the production of ground beef to ensure food safety and quality.

        We require our suppliers to follow all federal guidelines during the production of ground beef to ensure food safety and quality, including the USDA-approved process of Lean Finely Textured Beef. [The addition of ammonium hydroxide] is commonly followed in the food service industry, as it reduces the level of harmful bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella. Food safety practices are strictly followed at Kroger stores and we further encourage our customers to follow safe food handling techniques: keeping meats separate, keep your hands and preparation surfaces clean and cook meat to the correct temperature. If we can be of further assistance please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your patronage and have a wonderful day.

    2. My local market sent out emails explaining they don't use it, and in fact they grind their meat in-house.

      The idea of this vile stuff being fed to children (school lunch!) is disgusting.

      12 Replies
      1. re: coney with everything

        I may be going out on a limb here, but I would say that any grocery chain that has an in-house butcher shop (like HEB here in Texas) does not use the stuff. While on the other hand the union-phobes at Wal Mart who buy all their meat prepackaged (so they don't have to pay a butcher union wages) probably does. But then again I put nothing past Wal Mart.

        1. re: ericthered

          I kind of expect that Walmart would do this. But, in their defense, they also have some initiatives in the direction of organic foods, environmental sustainablity, etc. I seldom go there, but last time I went, I saw and bought a decently priced organic, free-range chicken...

          1. re: Bada Bing

            I think the public is being misled by Walmart's push to be sustainable or environmentally friendly.

            For Walmart, it's all part of a marketing ploy. Their organic and free-range stuff means very little when it comes to helping the environment.

            1. re: wreckers00

              Anything any company does to make their products more appealing to customers is a "marketing ploy". If you think that organic or free-range meat is safer or more environmentally friendly, it's something to be happy about if big businesses decide to sell it.

        2. re: coney with everything

          "Vile" sounds a bit dramatic here. What we're talking about is a matter of degrees. People have no problem slaughtering, eviscerating and breaking down animals but somehow making the most of meat scrap that we would otherwise have disposed of for lack of cost-effective processing suddenly becomes "vile"? There are people all over the world who would clamor for beef trimmings as a protein source. Oh, and ammonium hydroxide? It's already inside all of us and in the dilutions used in "pink slime" is a non-issue.

          1. re: ferret

            Well, yes. But we go to the market thinking we are buying 100% beef and find out that we aren't. And the ground beef is far more processed than we ever thought, and just in case it isn't clean, it gets a spray of ammonia. I'm sorry but this is just awful sounding. We aren't beggars finding something to keep body and soul together in the village garbage dump. We are buying this stuff, thinking it to be something else, and no one has mentioned this or put it down in black and white on the package. And, when people are outraged about eating this at McD's the government buys it to feed to kids in public school. I've heard the term mystery meat many times, and using that term seems to apply to this.

            I grant you that there are people poor enough in this world who might be thankful for this, and I grieve for their plight. I work in a food pantry. There is hunger and need right here in my community and grieve for those I try to help.

            But adulterating our meat secretly is not acceptable in this modern time.

            1. re: sueatmo

              >>>But we go to the market thinking we are buying 100% beef and find out that we aren't.<<<

              False. It is 100% beef, just not the parts you are used to.

              >>>adulterating our meat secretly <<<

              A) It's not a secret and hasn't been for years, and B) it's not adulterating. That is an incorrect use of the word. Adulterating is putting in a foreign substance, like putting sawdust into nutmeg. Putting cow into cow doesn't remotely qualify. It's 100% Beef, treated with a gas that occurs naturally in our systems, as the real scientific, non-hyperbolic, non-hysterical, non-panicky articles have established.

              Look, you're perfectly free to not like the stuff and get grossed out by the idea of it and to avoid it completely. I feel that way about tripe and menudo, no matter how many people tell me how delicious it is.

              But you are not free to misprepresent the facts to try to bolster your point.

              1. re: acgold7

                very interesting points that everyone has made here. i am not sure what to think so that's why i am interested in everyone's POV. in our home, we eat meat - tho - yes -cringe at the sight of the droopy chickens in the transport truck on the freeway in the HOT or icey cold -- and the cattle too. There is a gas station in our suburbs where the packing house trucks park - "last ride transport" -- i kid you not, that is the label on the door of the big trucks. It's at Whatcom Road, exit 95 off the Trans-Canada 1 in Greater Vancouver.

                1. re: acgold7

                  And yet I doubt anyone would be defending businesses grinding up tripe into their ground beef and not labeling it.

                  I wonder how many of the defenders I've suddenly started seeing posts from on the internet are being paid by the businesses producing the products. It's certainly happened before. I can't think of anything else that would motivate someone to advance the obviously risible argument that somehow a product made from material that's primarily connective tissue is somehow "ground beef". Especially since there are plenty of other components of cows that can't legally be sold as ground beef -- bones and brains, for instance.

                  It wouldn't even be labeled as beef had the USDA not overruled the objections of their own scientists and decided that it could be added to our food supply without being identified.

                  1. re: Exy00

                    "suddenly started seeing posts from"

                    Sometimes it is instructive to look at the posting history. If they've only been posting for the last day, or in particular category of threads, there is a possibility that they are here solely for that issue, whether paid to do so or not. But if they've been posting for several years on multiple topics, it is quite unlikely that they are industry plants.

                    Your posting history is quite short, but diverse enough, so I don't suspect you of being an anti-industry plant. :)

                    1. re: paulj

                      I did just join, and I didn't mean around here in particular, necessarily. I've suddenly been seeing these people mocking the "hysteria" everywhere online that this is being discussed. Whereas I don't remember any defenses of this stuff from anyone but PR people until quite recently.

                      1. re: Exy00

                        It hasn't been on most peoples' radar until a news article came out claiming 'pink slime is everywhere'. It's quite normal for some people to react to articles like that with 'Ugh, how horrible!!!!', and others with 'what's so horrible?' Some ask questions, others prefer emotional descriptors.

          2. I'm thinking a lot of that 'pink slime' is primarily used in those 'chub' packs or ground beef tubes.

            Regardless, if you're in doubt, grab a chuck steak or something and have them grind it up for you right there.

            1. MysticYoYo, I found it quite interesting that when major chains quit purchasing Pink Slime (McDonalds, for instance), the U.S. Government immediately bought thousands of pounds of it for the public schools. Makes you wonder just how strong the lobbyist group is for Pink Slime.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Leper

                Or how incredibly impotent the USDA is. And just who's pulling the strings.

              2. Newspapers have been reporting about pink slime for at least two years now, and it was displayed on the first season of Jamie Oliver's food revolution show on American TV, which is also two or more years ago. In view of the fact that after seeing how this stuff was formed into burgers used in school cafeterias, the kids still wanted to eat them, it is no surprise that pink slime remains part of the school lunch program.

                I am not informed as to the nutritional value of pink slime, or whether it presents any health risks.
                The idea is offputting, to be sure. As long as private and public food budgets are being pared, I don't foresee an end to the purchase of pink slime.

                4 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  what i remember seeing on Jamie Oliver were chicken nuggets formed of mechanically separated chicken. did he also do one on beef? (not being snarky, i'm really curious)

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    I remember the nuggets but I do think he went into the pink slime issue too.....perhaps the latter was in the second season. I wouldn't want to bet my first-born child on it, though. Probably the more important take-away from Mr. Oliver's show is that if it's fried, the kids want to eat it no matter what raw materials it contains.

                    I live in the Boston area, where tonight's TV news reported that next year the school system will not be buying the USDA-supplied pink-slime beef, despite the cost savings they'll be giving up. I'd be happier about that decision if not for wondering what other corners will be cut to make up for the added food cost. If it's a matter of, say, pink slime vs. arts curriculum, I'd rather see the kids eat the cheap beef and keep the music and art classes.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      thanks g.g. i do remember the chicken part clearly. and i have mixed feelings about pink slime, i think the bigger issue is that we didn't know it was there.

                      If they sell it as ground beef, then it seems it should be ground beef. not finely processed parts that seem almost more like a beef byproduct than beef itself. most of us eat hot dogs, but we know full well that it has 'stuff' in it that we wouldn't eat by itself. But calling this stuff ground beef seems to be pushing the limits.

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        I am an omnivore and love meat, but I have not consumed a hot dog in....I'm not sure how long! Probably about 20 years???? I make sausage with ground pork from a reliable butcher....etc. Mystery meat is not only slightly scary, it is of low quality/taste.

                2. They are all "safe," whether they contain the stuff or not.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: GH1618

                    Safe in a narrow sense, but are they wholesome and something you really want to eat?

                    1. re: GH1618

                      It's primarily connective tissue, not meat. And testing shows that it's more likely to contain salmonella and E. coli than actual ground beef.

                      So, uh, not really, no.

                    2. For those here who are arguing in favor of pink slime, I ask this: If this meat is just fine, why do they have to spray it with ammonium hydroxide at all? If it is of good quality, it shouldn't need anything more to make it edible.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: sandylc

                        If you read any of the many articles linked to in the many other threads on this, you will know why.

                        And I haven't seen anyone arguing in favor of this stuff -- just a few people who refuse to get all hysterical and irrational and panicky and political about it.

                        1. re: acgold7

                          I see nothing wrong about getting political or activist-y over it. I have not seen anyone get hysterical. I DO see lots of concern over finding out that we have been fed substandard shit when we thought we were buying better quality beef. That is wrong. That is why people are angry about it. They may have been eating this for years without having the courtesy of investigating the consequences for themselves to make an informed decision. That pisses intelligent people off..... stupid people- not so much. There are plenty of stupid people that really don't care what they put in their grocery cart.

                          I am very particular in what I buy. I am pretty pissed to find out about this.I think they hid this from the general public for far too long. I am someone that really believes in labeling things in plain English, in large print on every food product. Let the market decide on what sells and what doesn't. I am sure there will be plenty of people not minding their ground beef is partially pink slime. Informed consent is really important to me, this just really feels "slimy"....har, har.

                          1. re: sedimental

                            Please be very careful before you suggest that people who aren't going crazy about this are stupid. It's possible we're just informed and rational.

                            No one has ever gotten sick from eating this stuff. On the other hand, many, many people have gotten sick and died from e.coli on untreated ground beef. If it had been treated as LFTB is, they'd be alive.

                            The smart advice is the same now as it's been for 20 years -- never, ever buy ground beef in the pre-packed factory chubs, and if you have no choice, cook it to well-done (ick). Grind your own when you can. Rare hamburgers? I want to meet the cow personally first.

                            I'm pretty particular about what I buy, too.

                            1. re: acgold7

                              Ha, that reminds me of the Samuel Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction discussing why he doesn't eat pig. To paraphrase, 'That would have to be one charming MF cow!'

                              1. re: acgold7

                                Your assertion that "no one has ever gotten sick from eating this stuff" is completely untrue. The ammonia treatment is not perfect, it seems, and cases of salmonella and e.coli have been traced to "pink slime." Read an article about this in the last day or two (probably in the NYT).

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Interesting. It was already known that the ammonia treatment isn't perfect. There was a big article on it in the NYT back in I think 2009, in which they mentioned that the product is more likely to test positive for salmonella and E. coli than ground beef is.

                                  They test samples of it before they ship but no test is perfect and if you start with something more likely to be contaminated, you're talking a degree of risk.

                          2. re: sandylc

                            I don't think anyone is really for it, except producers who use it for economic reasons. As acgold7 wrote, it's a matter of not over-reacting. I prefer it not be used, but I'm not afraid of it.

                            The ammonia is used to kill bacteria. The reasons why beef trim is more prone to bacterial contamination can be found online. Irradiation could be used instead of chemical treatment, but some people would be afraid of that, too.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              The reason for spraying is that when you have large industrialized meat processing (which is the reality of 2012) you have meat sourced from countless animals merging into the system so you have a higher likelihood of bacterial contamination. When you read a headline about a recall of a million pounds of ground beef it doesn't mean that all 1,000,000 pounds bad, just that it was such a large process batch that they had to scrap everything to be sure. Spraying with ammonium hydroxide minimizes or eliminates that risk.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                And it's not arguing "in favor" of it, it's presenting a rational approach to something that popped up on a slow news day. Again, it's the thought that somehow cutting chunks of cow muscle off a carcass and then grinding them into small bits is wholesome and acceptable but maximizing the usability of the animal's protein is a science fiction horror story.

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  Pink slime is something I'd prefer to avoid, but I realize there's little/no scientific basis that it is unsafe, any more so than other processes that use the entire animal. As ammonium hydroxide goes, this is a good synopsis of it. It is commonly used in our food supply. As "good quality" goes, it's better to grind your own so you know what's going in it; or know your source. You'd be surprised at the things allowed into different food products, in parts per million.


                                  Q: In what foods is ammonium hydroxide used in processing?
                                  A: The list of foods in which ammonium hydroxide is used as a direct food additive is extensive and includes baked goods, cheeses, chocolates, other confectionery (e.g., caramel), and puddings. Ammonium hydroxide is also used as an antimicrobial agent in meat products.
                                  Ammonia in other forms (e.g., ammonium sulfate, ammonium alginate) is used in condiments, relishes, soy protein concentrates/isolates, snack foods, jams and jellies, and non-alcoholic beverages.
                                  The World Health Organization has listed hundreds of food types that may be processed using ammonium hydroxide when used in accordance with good manufacturing practices. These include dairy products, confections, fruits and vegetables, baked goods, breakfast cereals, eggs, fish, beverages such as sports drinks and beer, and meats.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I like where your head's at. To me it isn't so much the chemical that bothers me. If you've ever eaten a corn tortilla you've eaten corn treated with sodium hydroxide (for a VERY different reason but no less a dangerous chemical if not handled properly).

                                    To me the problem is that the conditions are so filthy that have to use harsh chemicals to make it safe. Clean up the process and you have less to worry about (in theory, insert disclaimers here, etc.).

                                    1. re: arjordan

                                      Sodium hydroxide (lye) is also used in traditional pretzel-making. Just like the cyanide that exists in many foods, it's all about the concentration. I would never drink a cup of lye, but I'll eat my weight in pretzels.

                                      1. re: ferret

                                        And traditionally, bagels are boiled in lye.

                                        1. re: cantkick

                                          Pretzels are the only item mentioned here that actually is made with lye (and not all of them); cornmeal for tortillas is nixtamalized with lime, a different chemical, and bagels are boiled in water or water with baking soda. The unique taste of pretzels comes from the reaction with lye.

                                          The comparison would be valid if the reason pretzels were exposed to lye was to kill the colonies of germs that inevitably infested them. But that's not the case, so the fact that some other foods contain additives that are inedible is irrelevant.

                                  2. re: sandylc

                                    Next ask why, even after the disinfection step, it's still more likely to test positive for potentially dangerous bacteria.

                                  3. The word "slime" is a turn-off, but it seems to be the popular term of choice. How about okra? Should we call that "green slime"? Would people still buy it to put in their gumbo if we did?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      This is a great idea. I am now renaming everything in my house that has a finely ground or gelatinous texture.

                                      Toothpaste = White Slime

                                      Peanut Butter = Tan Slime

                                      Nutella = Dark Brown Slime

                                      Strawberry Jell-O = Red Slime

                                      Tomato Paste = Really Red Slime

                                      Anchovy Paste = Grey Slime

                                      Hummus = The Other Tan Slime

                                      Yogurt = Slimier White Slime

                                      And don't even get me started on tofu.

                                      Now, by using the most vile, repulsive and inaccurate terms possible to describe these, I can panic my kids into not eating anything. Think of all the money I will save.

                                      1. re: acgold7

                                        Personally, I love to mix tan slime and dark brown slime, though it's not good for the waistline. I guess I should just stick to slimier white slime and the other tan slime. :-)

                                        I'm with you; knowing what's in one's food and responding in a reasonable and consistent way (and not in a way driven by media hysteria) seems...not stupid.

                                    2. The World Health Organization approved Ammonium Hydroxide years ago for use in hundreds of food products. If you are not eating it in beef, then you are getting it somewhere else. The U.S. approved it use back in the 70’s, so it’s not like this is a new product. Everyone has been eating it for years. I love how the media takes something like this, puts a stupid name on it like “Pink Slime” and everyone is up in arms. Next week what will everyone will be against…citric acid because it causes loss of tooth enamel?


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cxn_175

                                        Actually, this is factually false. The process that produces this stuff wasn't even invented until the 1990s.

                                        I'm not worried about ammonia used in reasonable quantities in my food. I think it is worth worrying about a product like this which -- even after treatment -- is more likely to test positive for bacterial contamination than actual ground beef is.

                                      2. If you have a store with a butcher, just select a cut of meat and have them grind it for you. I don't usually buy ground beef, but I frequently do this with ground pork because the pre-made versions have way too much fat.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: raytamsgv

                                          I agree on ground pork. That's what I do when I make pot stickers.

                                        2. I think you should awesome that only ground beef ground in-store is lacking additives and extenders or from a farmer-direct program. Anything ground beef coming from a mega-supplier is probably contaminated with ecoli or the like.

                                          1. Has Burger King said they are not using or will not use pink slime?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: racer x

                                              According to all of the top hits on google, yes.