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In Regards to Pink Slime and FTB

You say slime, others say FTB = finely textured beef. Potato potatoe, tomato tahmahto.

Bottom line for me is taste tests, and studies show that ground meat without the stuff tastes better. I'm sure chicken nuggets not made with chicken slime - umm FTC - taste a heck of a lot better then the slimy nuggets.

What I don't understand is that this was news many years ago. Why is it news now? Perhaps to justify the ever increasing price of ground meat?

I smell something fishy, and it is called beef.

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  1. Furthermore, and I may be completely off base with this - it appears that grocers on the east coast are sending out press releases that they will no longer use that "pink slime"

    But they clearly don't say that they won't use another "pink slime" not based with amonia but with citrus as a cleaning agent.

    Again, I could be completely off base here.

    1. "studies show that ground meat without the stuff tastes better"

      I have yet to see an actual study on this. The problem is that it tends to be used to extend cheaper cuts which themselves aren't all that great, flavor-wise. So I've yet to see whether the finely textured beef influences the flavor of the same batch of ground beef (with/without).

      27 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        http://tinyurl.com/7l35uqm

        from Huffington: 'Pink Slime': Sounds Gross, But How Does It Taste? by J.M. HIRSCH

        Not an actual review, but an article by author who taste tested both.

        Whether or not you haven't read reviews to know whether this sort of food adulteration tastes OK, surely you don't imagine it improves nutrition or taste?

        1. re: sueatmo

          thanks for posting that link suetmo. Saves me for doing a search which any ferret could do. What also bothers me is now what many of us have known about the ground beef industry for years has suddenly become a witch hunt.

          What was referred to as FTB, which is not hazardous, has been called pink slime. I find that slanderous. Now they are shutting down plants, and stores are banning it. There is really nothing wrong with it. I personally choose not to eat it, which is a luxury.

          We are falling victim to media hysteria and that is a shame. The price of ground beef was already heading off the charts. What will happen to the prices now? If a family on a tight budget wants to make American Chop Suey with a lower quality ground beef, they should have that right. And if I want a high quality grind, I should know what I am paying for.

          Banning FTD is just wrong.

          1. re: Bellachefa

            No one is banning the stuff, merely demanding that packages of ground beef containing it be labeled, so that consumers can make the choice for themselves.

            1. re: pikawicca

              most major grocers in the US have agreed to no longer sell ground beef that is processed with FTD. If that's not banning it, I don't know what is? Because of this the top producer of FTD has shut down 3 of it's four processing plants - if the media has it correct.

              1. re: Bellachefa

                Grocery stores are merely responding to the demands of their customers, who apparently don't want to buy meat with FTD in it. If people don't want to buy something, stores don't stock it, and the manufacturer stops making it. That's how the free market is supposed to work.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  It's "FTB" (finely textured beef) and people are reacting to sensationalistic reporting not useful information. Calling it "slime" is pretty unfair, it's beef (you can grind up a filet mignon to the same texture and I don't think people will call it slime). There needs to be a happy medium where FTB is labeled in a product and available to budget-conscious shoppers. The knee-jerk reaction of simply pulling it from the market will lead to increased costs for all.

          2. re: sueatmo

            If you read the review he buys two packages of ground beef, one at a $3.09 price point and one at $5.99. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which one is of better quality. And realistically, ground beef, as a product of a living organism, is not a product where you are likely to get 100% consistency from batch to batch, so getting a real head-to-head comparison is difficult under any circumstances, but to say the one with the FTB tastes worse BECAUSE of the FTB is baseless.

            It may well be that the FTB is tasteless and is effectively the "sawdust" of meat products, but everything we've seen so far is purely sensationalistic with little or no science or reporting of any value.

            "It's bad!" "It has Windex in it!" These types of reactionary statements are of little value to providing meaningful information.

            In summary, I don't doubt that the batches of ground beef to which the FTB is added are of "lesser" quality, but to automatically assume that the quality dropped with the addition of FTB is unsupportable from what I've seen (not to say that it can't be proved, just that nobody's tried to do it correctly yet).

            1. re: ferret

              "but to say the one with the FTB tastes worse BECAUSE of the FTB is baseless."

              I've read a lot of articles and do not have the energy to go back to source them. However, the one major problem with the FTB/Slime debate is that they take a %60-%70 mix of subpar beef cuts and cut it with the FTB to bring it up to the %80 marketed product. Of course the pure %80 fresh ground beef will taste better because it is better cuts of beef and not filler.

              Again, I think that there should be proof in labeling, but the FTB should not go in the trash, and should remain available for those who want a more affordable alternative.

              1. re: Bellachefa

                to Bella; yes, of course, any adulterated product should be labeled as such. But the fact that the industry slipped the stuff into product for so many years, and did not disclose it, tells me that the industry doesn't really think this practice is good. I mean, they kept it a secret from the buying public, by not labeling it. And the gov't. agency was complicit.

                Most of us did not know it was in the marketplace, and we did not know to choose another product until now. If it is so OK, why don't you choose for yourself?

                1. re: Bellachefa

                  What cuts do you consider subpar for use in hamburgers and ground beef? What are the "better cuts"? My butcher scrapes the meat off of the shin bone for my ground beef, and it tastes fantastic.

                  1. re: tommy

                    I don't know the answer to your question. I bought the brand of meat my grocer informed me had no pink slime in it. It isn't ground at the store. In fact I don't think any meat is now ground at the store I shop at, but I should check to make sure. What I bought is marketed as "natural" but of course that label has no real meaning. We are having hamburgers tomorrow night. I hope they are good. All this talk of hamburger has made me want one!

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      The question was directed toward Bellachefa.

                      I'm having a burger for lunch.

                2. re: ferret

                  It may be sensational, but I personally don't think selling unlabeled adulterated meat is honest. Remember that some people have asked why their ground meat smells like ammonia. Does that sound like good food to you? And if they use a weaker ammonia solution to treat it, it can harbor salmonella. Does that sound like good food safety procedures to you?

                  Just because it isn't proven harmful, doesn't mean it is good practice. At the very least, if beef processors want to market a cheaper grade of ground beef, it should be labeled as adulterated.

                  And don't forget, we are probably getting the same stuff in hot dogs. Possibly in lunchmeat, but I am just guessing there.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    I think maybe you're operating under the wrong definition of the word "adulterated", which means adding a foreign substance not related to what's supposed to be in there. Adding Cow parts to Cow parts doesn't even remotely qualify. Adding sawdust to Nutmeg does.

                    I think we'd all benefit if people stopped using inflammatory, emotionally charged words to make their points sound more valid.

                    1. re: acgold7

                      Put me down in the camp that wishes people would hold back on inflammatory, wild accusations about the stuff but also thinks that this product should be labelled. I understand that it's still just 'treated beef' in a technical sense, same as regular ground beef. But that's not the only consideration. Salted cabbage and sauerkraut have the same ingredients, but they're not the same product.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        You know, cow parts I would not normally eat, or serve my family + ammonia are not normal food ingredients. I stand by the use of "adulterated." We simply disagree.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Where do you get "cow parts I would not normally eat from"? Where does that appear in any article?

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            How about...."deceptively adulterated"?

                            The whole issue stinks. I am happy for all the drama about it, at least it is getting the attention it deserves. I would bet that the *sanitized scraps* are back again in the supermarket before long, only this time- they will be labeled, research will commence on every aspect of it- and consumer advocates will pick another food issue to focus on. All will be well in the American Corporate Food Industry again.

                    2. re: sueatmo

                      There are a bunch of problems with that taste test - any test that involves only one taster who is fully aware of which product is which at the time of tasting is quite prone to bias and prejudice. Of course, seeing as this is the ONLY comparative taste test I've seen, I guess I can't complain too much; beggars can't be choosers.

                      Still, a blind test would be a lot less questionable.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Agreed. The taste test was so unscientific it's pointless.

                        I've been eating beef with FTB in it for years (Stop and Shop apparently had it, but now pulled it) and I've always spoken very highly of their ground beef. Normally I grind my own, but in a pinch I'd go to Stop and Shop. Perhaps that stuff was actually making a product more to my liking. That's the conclusion I've drawn.

                        1. re: tommy

                          I don't think of it as pointless. It was one person's experience. You could always do same, and other could too. Then we'd have more data, or, actually more subjective experience.

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            It's completely pointless because it's not based on any scientific method. If one consumes data based on nothing but opinion then I suppose it's useful.

                            1. re: tommy

                              I is interesting to me. It inspires me to want to conduct my own taste test.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                Well I should certainly hope you and others would. That's half the point of the only point here, isn't. Other than the claim of "deception". I, like any other educated consumer, has known for years that if the label doesn't say "ground chuck" or "ground sirloin", but instead says "ground beef", you're getting other muscles. That's why I don't buy "ground beef." And, of course, most of the people with strong opinions on this stuff have been eating if for years, just like me. Probably the same lot that have posted on other threads about how their bleu cheese burgers are "great" and the "roasted mushrooms" burgers are "yummy."

                                What comes out of this issue is, hopefully, information for the consumer who otherwise wouldn't know any better, and who I bet wouldn't care otherwise.

                                But make sure it's a controlled experiment and a blind taste test. Otherwise you're doing yourself a disservice.

                            2. re: sueatmo

                              The "person's experience" tests nothing. Let's assume that neither sample had FTB. He would only be testing $3.09/lb ground beef vs. $5.99/lb. ground beef. What is the value of that test?? It tells you nothing.

                              The presence of FTB in the cheaper sample tells you nothing. You have no idea what the cheaper sample would taste like without FTB. You have no idea of the percentage of FTB and you have no idea of what the FTB does at all. All you end up with is "if I pay twice as much I get a better product." That's silly and pointless.

                          2. re: cowboyardee

                            Iif I want high quality ground beef, I'll buy the chuck and ask the butcher to grind it. I buy ground beef knowing its cheap and flavorless and I'm trying to stretch a buck to feed my large family. What parts of the cow are inedible? If they had lips and assholes ground up and added in I would still feed it to my family-- it's meat, ain't it?

                      2. Yes, it's been in the news before, but recently the USDA approved it for use in school lunches, so it's back on top of the news heap.

                        jb

                        1. My issue is that they basically bleach it. I firmly believe in not wasting any part of an animal, but the chemical thing scares me. I attempt to steer clear of pesticides and chemicals, even if it's not always possible. I grind my own meat.

                          18 Replies
                          1. re: LN2008

                            But if you've read all the articles posted and linked to, you know that grinding your own doesn't help you dodge the ammonia bullet at all. All carcasses are treated with this stuff, and have been for the last 40 years or so, if the articles are correct.

                            1. re: acgold7

                              Yes, but I believe their is a difference. One is sprayed on the outside and rinsed off before processing. The other it's all mixed in together.

                              I'll look for an article to back this up, as I admit the rinsing part is my hope/assumption.

                              jb

                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                It's not really 'mixed in' with FTB. From what I have read, the meat is warmed, spun in a centrifuge to remove the fat and treated with ammonium hydroxide gas.
                                http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03...

                                Not that I love that idea.

                                Also I have been reading that FTB is not approved in Canada. But then there are claims that Beef Products Inc. sells to Canada. Maybe for pet food? It was difficult to find a straight answer.

                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                  Canada buys their FTB from Cargill. Their process uses citric acid as opposed to ammonium hydroxide, so it's merely the use of ammonium hydroxide that they reject.

                                  1. re: ferret

                                    That speaks clearly to my second post of this thread that they may stop using the currently used ' pink slime' but may eventually replace it with a citris based slime that is all natural as well.

                                    I imagine the US company will simply change their 'FTB" cocktail from amonia to citric acid.

                                    btw - amonia is natural and safe unless mixed with clorox bleach

                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                      it may be natural, but while I'd be more than happy to drink a glass of OJ with some citric acid I'd say no thanks to a dash of ammonia.

                                      jb

                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                        Shocking or not ammonium hydoxide is likely used in a lot of meat you have already consumed. Not just FTB, but in all forms of meat, it's on the USDA's list of approved decontaminants - it wasn't just created for FTB. I don't find the idea of drinking or bathing in Clorox appealing but I swim in pools and drink tap water that has appropriate levels of chlorine to ensure my safety.

                                        It's all about concentrations.

                                        1. re: ferret

                                          I think it's all about the fact that the meat scraps were so contaminated that they needed to be decontaminated in the first place. Yuck! (And remained more contaminated than regular ground beef after being treated.)

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            That's simply wrong. It's not that the meat scraps are all contaminated, it's that SOME may be and because you're processing scraps from thousands of animals at a time you need to prevent the contamination across the whole batch.

                                            The news stories convey the impression that this is an unscrupulous firm that dumpster dives to pick up "scraps" and that's teh unfair part.

                                            Here's a (possibly) more objective take:

                                            http://live.psu.edu/story/58528

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              I don't really rely on cable or network news for accurate reporting. If you spend some time Googling this issue, you will find government studies reporting that FTB sample test higher for bacterial contamination than ground beef. (I have not seen any news reports implying that the company is "dumpster diving," just using meat scraps that formerly went to pet food because they can make more money putting it into people food.)

                                          2. re: ferret

                                            The fact I've already consumed some doesn't make me any happier about consuming some more. I already take steps to avoid doing so as best I can.

                                            I grew up with a swimming pool, my hair turned green every summer. I'm sure that was good for me back then and today I only drink filtered water.

                                            jb

                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                              You choose to drink filtered water, that doesn't mean unfiltered water is unsafe or bad. And I agree that consumers should be given the option to buy ground beef with and without FTB. You should be free to choose.

                                              1. re: ferret

                                                We agree it's about having the choice. I'll wait for more science to determine if pink slime or tap water are truly harmful.

                                                jb

                                  2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                    I think I'm wrong about the rinsing. The only articl I could find was on using Lactic Acid in the same capacity as ammonia. In that case it wasn't washed off. It was sprayed and then the beef was hung in the cooler for 21 days. At that point this particular processor shaved off the outer layer that was sprayed, but readily admitted larger processors did not as they increase their production. The even larger processors were the ones that use the Ammonia spray, but their process was not described.

                                    jb

                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                      except I buy local meat from a local butcher.

                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                        If you look at the article I linked, your "rinsed off" is wishful thinking, but that's not the point. Ammonium hydroxide is inside all of us (we produce it) and in a lot of what we already consume. It's in minute concentrations.

                                        Here's the link again:

                                        http://live.psu.edu/story/58528

                                        ""If you took LFTB out of the ground beef mix, you certainly wouldn't improve the microbial status, and you would not reduce the occurrence of E. coli 0157:H7 or salmonella in ground beef. In fact, it would be just the opposite. There is not a safety issue here."

                                        The brief exposure of LFTB to ammonia gas is a very effective antimicrobial treatment, Mills said. And whether it is applied to the meat in this finely textured form or whether it is applied to the side of the beef carcass -- which is another place that USDA accepts its use as an effective intervention for reducing microbial and pathogen numbers -- it makes meat safer."

                                        1. re: ferret

                                          Nowhere in that article does it say they are not rinsed. I don't think they are based on my own research. And while it makes it safer from a microbial point of view my jury is still out on the safety of the ammonia. A big difference is the amount of surface area that comes into contact with the meat. In Pink Slime, it's touches everything. When spraying a carcass it's only the outside, which is often trimmed away.

                                          This fellow seems to think PS is safer than other forms of ground beef since he says not using it would increase the occurence of microbial infection. I wonder where he gets that stat?

                                          jb

                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                            "I wonder where he gets that stat?"

                                            It's obvious mathematically. If one component of ground beef is 100% free of bacterial contamination, the remainder having a possibility of some contamination, and you remove the bacteria-free component, the chance of contamination increases. This is not likely to be significant, however. All ground beef should be assumed to have a possibility of contamination from harmful bacteria, so should be cooked adequately, in my opinion.

                                  3. Funny thing about this controversy. Eating ammonia-treated ground beef sounds really awful, and I would certainly avoid it. However, I like eating that salty Dutch licorice with that faint ammonia flavor.