HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Discussion

"Pink Slime " fallout

Because of reduced sales as a result of negative publicity about "boneless beef trimmings," Beef Products Inc. announced today it is permanently closing processing plants in Texas, Kansas,
and Iowa. 650 people will lose their jobs on May 25th.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. What will they do with those parts of the animal? Right in the bin, I guess.

    1 Reply
    1. I feel bad for the displaced workers, but is it too much to ask the food industry to provide jobs making real food?

      143 Replies
      1. re: Rmis32

        That not "real food" sure did feed a lot of people for a while. Probably made beef more affordable for a large segment of the country.

        1. re: tommy

          But the ingredients weren't disclosed. I think one reason ground beef has become flavorless, is because of its adulteration with pink slime. Remember that this adulteration was only stopped after whistleblowers at the overseeing government agency called attention to it. And, the former head of the agency went on to a nice job with the meat processors.

          I think the whole affair stinks of cronyism.

          1. re: sueatmo

            My point is that it is still perhaps "real food" which fed lots of people for an affordable price. The disclosure issue is separate and something which I wasn't commenting on. I too was surprised to hear about the process. But I wouldn't be so quick to judge the product as some sort of unworthy fake food. Frankly I think it's better than most of the crap the country eats. Then again I eat very, very well.

            1. re: tommy

              And because of the process used to make finely textured lean ground beef it is almost certain that more people have gotten ill from baby spinach than from so-called 'pink slime'.

              1. re: John E.

                Well, yeah, and claims of it being unsafe are meritless. As far as I've seen at least. Claims of "chemicals are bad for you" are generally yawn-inducing for me.

                1. re: tommy

                  There is no or very little chemical residue using the ammonia gas process. There is ammonia naturally in many food products. The largest grocery chain in Iowa is attempting to keep one of the plants open by selling hamburger with and without the textured lean ground beef as demanded by their customers.

                  1. re: John E.

                    I understand. I thought I made my position on ammonia clear.

                    1. re: tommy

                      I guess I was agreeing with you a little too enthusiastically.

              2. re: tommy

                I think it is the point. Perhaps, for people on a strict budget, if the ingredients were disclosed, it might have a place. And remember that plenty of fast food places were using this product. Again--not disclosed.

                I don't eat commercial hamburgers very often, so my sample size is quite small. But the Hardees thing that uses pure beef (of some sort) is worlds better than the McDonalds hamburger. Could it be that actual pure ground beef tastes better than adulterated beef?

                If they want to adulterate ground beef or ground chuck, then they should disclose it, and keep it priced cheap. But that isn't what happened.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  It was not 'adulterated' at all. The process to make the lean finely textured ground beef was an FDA approved process. The ammonia gas treatment is an industry accepted standard and the public was manipulated with fakse and exaggerated information. More than a thousand people lost their ljobs because of that manipulation.

                  1. re: John E.

                    It is adulteration, just an FDA approved adulteration. The whole concept of consumer choice in a marketplace is to ensure that customers are fully informed and are able to make an informed decision.... that is what all the labelling laws are for. To allow ground meat to be sold without appropriate labelling is unacceptable.

                    1. re: cacruden

                      The lean finely textured ground beef is the same stuff as the stuff it was being added to, ground beef.

                    2. re: John E.

                      your description is of a process designed to completely adulterate foodstuff.
                      no thanks.
                      i'm glad to see it gone.
                      time to train those people to do something useful.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        What "description of a process"? I just read my posts and I did not describe an process. I mentioned the process used but no description. I don't have the answers for that. The beef was not 'completely adulterated' however. It's all beef whether you understand it or not. You can choose not to eat it. (Actually you no longer have a choice as it is not in the main foodstream any longer). I rarely did.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          The FDA defines what is adulterated. Since the FDA has approved the process, it is not adulterated, at least officially.

                          But John E, is wrong also. LFTB is not "the same stuff." Near the end of this thread I posted a link to a document from Iowa State University which reports the results of an analysis of LFTB compared to ground chuck. There are significant differences in the ratios of various proteins. Calling it "the same stuff" or "just beef" leads one to believe that it is indistinguishable from ordinary ground chuck produced the old fashioned way. That is not true and it is deceptive to argue that it need not be identified as an additive because it's just more of the same. It's not.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            Where does FDA define what is "adulterated"? There is the dictionary meaning (posted earlier), which LFTB definitely fits the bill.... but I have not seen an FDA redefinition of what "adulterated" is.... I have seen approved processes, approved for consumption.... but not "adulterated".

                            I continue to quibble about calling LFTB beef, it is made from beef it does not make it beef in itself. It is a small but important part. I can make beef stock from beef, but it does not make the inverse true... beef stock is not beef. You can make things out of something, but it does not hold the reverse is true. LFTB is a protein paste, not beef. It is a protein paste made from inedible parts of a cow and ammonia hydroxide. Whether the indelible parts of the cow are beef is up to interpretation.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              When I said it was the same 'stuff' my point is that it is still beef and it is still meat that has not been cooked to the degree that it is a cooked product mixed with an uncooked product thus the comparison to beef stock by cacruden is ridiculous.

                              1. re: John E.

                                you're trying to split the hair a few too many times.

                                The cooking is not the point - the fact is that it is made from beef, but it is absolutely not beef.

                                Merriam-Webster (dot com, natch) defines beef as "the flesh of an adult domestic bovine (as a steer or cow) used as food "

                                they then define flesh as "the soft parts of the body of an animal and especially of a vertebrate; especially : the parts composed chiefly of skeletal muscle as distinguished from internal organs, bone, and integument"

                                Therefore, by definition, ligaments, bones, and connective tissue is not beef.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  The definition by Merriam-Webster was actually more extensive than that - you only took the meaning 1a. It is interesting that even within the first entry (1a) lists as distinguished from ... integument (which includes skin) but then in 1c says "skin" is also considered flesh - which means entry 1 is inconsistent.

                                  More than that, you missed entry 3a - "edible parts of an animal" which is why I stated that it is up to the interpretation.... because the connective tissue is technically edible (less safe because of processing) even if not enjoyable.

                                  1. re: cacruden

                                    Not sure why you're aiming this at me -- I'm agreeing with you, and have throughout this entire thread, that pink slime is not beef.

                                    it's a long-standing protocol with dictionaries that the first definition is the most commonly-used definition.

                                    Look at any other dictionary out there -- the point is that "meat" refers specifically to muscle tissue.

                                    Still want to continue this farce of believing that the fact that it came from a bovine species makes it beef?

                                    I had breakfast a while ago, and poured some nice fresh beef over my cereal (not really - it was milk) and am getting ready to head out the door, wearing a beef belt (no, it's leather) and beef shoes (no, they're leather, too) -- I'll give the dog a piece of beef (boy is he gonna be pissed - it's just rawhide) to chew, then go sit on the beef seats of my car (yep, leather, too) to drive to work.

                                    For dessert in the cafeteria, they're serving up a mix of beef with strawberries. (Nope, it's strawberry gelatin)

                                    The fact that it comes from a bovine doesn't automatically mean it's beef.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Aiming -- not exactly, I just was reading that exact entry before you posted it and decided it was too ambiguous to hinge my argument on. (Would think that the 1st entry) I often looking up words I do use, and I find a lot of entries where 2nd and 3rd entries are more commonly the interpretation than the 1st .... think it has to do more with english being used in many regions and different regions have different preferences for it's definition. Guess that is why I prefer computer languages better :p

                                      I am not a person that buys organic (generally - except for my rice -- if not given rice directly from a farm), but I believe that allowing Ammonia for meat processing is going a little too far. If the US continues down that road they will get into a situation like India/Bangladesh where you cannot guarantee that fish is not adulterated with formaldehyde.... because it "keeps" the fish fresher looking.... (but kills you in the end).

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Careful of that Jell-o. It's processed with ammonium hydroxide and made from bones and cartilage. LOL!

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          In any case, whether or not it should be called "beef" is a mere semantic argument, not a substantive one. The substantive question is how it differs from the ground beef to which it is added. There is a scientific analysis of the protein content from Iowa State University (funded by BPI) which shows that LFTB differs significantly from ground chuck in the ratios of various types of protein. It is different.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            >>> "meat" refers specifically to muscle tissue.<<<

                                            Hm. I wonder what a Vegetarian would have to say about that.

                                            1. re: acgold7

                                              Vegitarianism doesn't enter into the question, so this is merely a semantic diversion from the substantive questions, which are: should LFTB be added to ground beef, and if it is, should the package say that it is added. Is LFTB a "filler"? If a package of ground beef is advertised as having "no fillers," should that mean "no LFTB"?

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                The bulk of this thread is semantic, though, isn't it? Surely if someone does not eat meat, they can eat this, since it isn't meat, no?

                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                  *chuckling* -- the hitch is that it's derived from dead animals...and that's the part to which most vegetarians take issue.

                                                  But you're not wrong.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    For most vegetarians it is either related to the ethical treatment of animals (which sadly lacks) or outright believe that they cannot in good conscience eat a product that relies on the taking of an animals life. BUT many really really want to eat meat, which is the foundation of the huge "faux meat" production using soy products to simulate meat products (luckily it is made with stuff that is actually meant to be edible -- not ammonia :o). The minute that they perfect "growing" meat in a lab using modern technology (which is being worked on), they would consider not being vegetarians again. The funny thing is that sooo many vegetarians actually do eat meat byproducts without even realizing it (worcestershire sauce; cheese - which often requires rennet/cow gut; thai curries - made from curry paste with shrimp paste in it; etc.).

                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                      It all depends on what type of vegetarian someone might be, and what the motivation is for the choice.

                                                      There are vegans, lacto-ovo, pescetarians, etc., etc., etc. -- there are a LOT of different types of vegetarian out there, and most everyone has their own reason for making that choice.

                                                      Some are religious, some are ethically motivated, and I know more than a few who just don't like meat.

                                                      There are a number of vegetarians who wouldn't care if they brought out lab-grown meat, because they don't like the texture of meat, regardless of its origin.

                                                      I suspect lab-grown meat would spawn a few new vegetarians, by the way.

                                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                                      So I'm wondering why we don't see more three-legged pigs.....

                                                      (You know the old joke... "Hell, a pig that smart... You can't just eat him all at once...")

                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                        oh, let's not go down the road leading toward the pain and suffering of a permanently-crippled pig.

                                                        I love the joke, but don't go there.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Besides.... pigs hoof is a delicacy.... so why would you want to get rid of one?

                                                          1. re: cacruden

                                                            Being there is no demand for pink slime at this time, I would gladly buy a dump truck load of the stuff if I could get everybody together for pink slime fight to settle the issue once and for all!

                                                            When done we could all rinse off in Tommy's 24,000 gallon chlorinated pool and eat burgers from one of John's pasture raised steer and then bask in Sunshine warm rays. LOL

                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                            There are not bones in the product.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              You keep saying ligaments, bones, and connective tissue are what makes up the finely textured lean beef. It is not. It the meat clinging to those parts that is removed to make the product.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                You seem not to have read the Iowa State analysis (linked elsewhere). Whatever it is, the protein content is different than that for ground chuck. The analysis, by the way, was funded by BPI.

                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                  My point all along is not about science it's about practicality. I still believe this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. It's still meat and it's still beef. It is substantially more lean than the ground beef with which it is intended to be mixed. I don't have a problem with it. I understand that others do. I know I am also getting tired of the subject because everything from now on does not matter since it is not being widely used anymore.

                                    2. re: sueatmo

                                      It is beef. It's not some other mystery meat or nonmeat.

                                      1. re: wyogal

                                        It's like getting upset with the industry because they don't tell you whats in a 100% beef hot dog.

                                        1. re: tommy

                                          There is a difference, people that buy ground beef actually expect it to be ground beef - same thing they bought 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc. A hot dog -- people already it contains snouts and tails and anything else that happens to be on the floor at the time.

                                          1. re: cacruden

                                            At what point do you think people realized that 100% beef hot dogs weren't just ground up tenderloins?

                                            1. re: cacruden

                                              You are missing the point. "Pink slime" IS beef. Kind of "super ground."
                                              But, I think I get YOUR point. You just don't like meat, or commercially prepared meat.

                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                Pink slime is not ground beef it is a protein paste made the same animal and ammonia. Anyways, at least in Canada it is not allowed since ammonia is not allowed in the production of meat or ground meat products. If the FDA wants to allow the US food supply to be adulterated without due warning to consumers.... that is not my problem luckily.... But I don't consider ammonia to be a food. Next you will say it is ok to dip the meat in bleach, because well -- it is only to clean meat and whatever residue is left in .... shouldn't hurt (at least not right away).

                                                1. re: cacruden

                                                  "Bleach" (chlorinated water) is already used to treat produce, fyi.

                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                    I am familiar with using a mild bleach solution to wash fruits and vegetables. Sometimes there is no alternative but to wash them with that solution, especially if the alternative (some purple goop - don't know the name) is not available, for diplomats posted to countries such as Bangladesh or Africa. Canadian diplomats may get additional "hardship" pay for having to "endure" that.

                                                    Bleaching solution kills bacteria on fruits and vegetables but bleaching solutions have been reported to produce organochlorine arcinogenic (cancer causing) residues on treated food products. Now start using it on meat which absorbs a considerable amount of liquid (marination) [usually you wash vegetables whole which has skin to prevent as much absorption].

                                                    Maybe diplomats to the US should start getting paid some hardship pay as well.

                                        2. re: sueatmo

                                          "But the Hardees thing that uses pure beef (of some sort) is worlds better than the McDonalds hamburger. Could it be that actual pure ground beef tastes better than adulterated beef?"

                                          I wouldn't draw that conclusion. I would draw the conclusion that you prefer the Hardees product over the McDonalds product, though.

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            I think we simply disagree. And the Hardees burger, which I enjoyed for a time when I was doing low, low carb, is worlds better than any McD's I have ever had.

                                            a·dul·ter·ate   [v. uh-duhl-tuh-reyt; adj. uh-duhl-ter-it, -tuh-reyt] Show IPA verb, a·dul·ter·at·ed, a·dul·ter·at·ing, adjective
                                            verb (used with object)
                                            1.
                                            to debase or make impure by adding inferior materials or elements; use cheaper, inferior, or less desirable goods in the production of (any professedly genuine article): to adulterate food.

                                            http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...

                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              "Could it be that actual pure ground beef tastes better than adulterated beef?"

                                              This is a purely subjective statement. Preferring Hardee's over McDonald's does not lead me to such a conclusion. It's simply a matter of taste. There is absolutely zero science in that. Maybe we disagree about how one draws conclusions?

                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                            There is no ingredient "not being disclosed". "pink slime" is 100% beef. The willingness of people to buy into such an obviously contrived scare story should surprise me, but it doesn't. The fact that even Hounds refused to seek out the truth for themselves before buying the hype is a bit disappointing.

                                            1. re: iheartcooking

                                              Exactly. People just like a good freak-out, I guess.

                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                It is simply a case of truth in labelling. I would actually be fine with pink slime if the food was labelled something like: Beef treated with Ammonia Hydroxide. Same with irradiated produce. I will eat irradiated produce, but I expect it to be labelled. Basically let the consumers decide. The only reason to hide it is because if consumers are informed -- they might not buy it (even at a slightly reduced price) - which affects the market value of this. To me, adding it and not labelling it is a form of corruption/fraud.

                                                Of course there will be many countries that will just ban beef being imported from the United States since Ammonia treatment of meat is not acceptable.

                                                1. re: cacruden

                                                  cacruden:
                                                  maybe call it "beef TRIMMINGS treated with Ammonia Hydroxide."

                                                  most of the folks that i know associate the word "beef" with muscle tissue and expect the nutrient profile and the flavor profile of anything labeled "beef" to be those of muscle tissue.. . .

                                                  totally agree with you that not labeling it is completely a form of corruption/fraud.

                                              2. re: iheartcooking

                                                Strictly speaking, anything that comes from a cow can be labeled beef, but if people order a beef dish in a restaurant and were served a dish of finely ground beef scraps, sinew, fat, and connective tissue, I suspect they would not be thrilled.

                                                1. re: Rmis32

                                                  "Strictly speaking, anything that comes from a cow can be labeled beef"

                                                  Can you provide a reference for this? I tend to think that if you grind beef bones and livers, you can't label it "ground beef." I could be wrong, but since you note the rule, I'm hoping you can share your reference.

                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                    No need to get into the legalities of the definition of "beef". I was simply questioning iheart's contention that there is no reason to identify "pink slime" or "lean finely textured ground beef" on the label, since it is beef and the label already identifies the meat as beef. My contention is that it is a filler and not what consumers think of when they buy "all beef" products. I suspect that one of the chief reasons meatpackers like to use it, is that, unlike cereal fillers, which must be labeled, LFTGB need not be labelled.

                                                    "We originally called it soylent pink," microbiologist Carl Custer, who worked at the Food Safety Inspection Service for 35 years, told The Daily. "We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat."
                                                    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03...

                                                    1. re: Rmis32

                                                      Soylent Pink is a good name for it since it is your thinking about this as if the end product is recognizable (protein paste made from beef vs humans). It is protein reclaimed from beef that normally would not be used for human consumption because of the higher risk of bacteria etc. The ammonia hydroxide is used to basically sterilize the beef scraps, which is then reduced to an unrecognizable protein. It does not work 100% of the time since there have been cases of e.coli and salmonella attributed to end product containing this protein.

                                                      Normal ground beef is made from scraps as well - fat and ground beef (of one of three types typically). This ground beef is labelled to tell you what percentage of fat is ground in along with the beef (sausage and ground beef needs fat in the mix). So I just go back to label the product so the consumer can choose.

                                                      1. re: cacruden

                                                        "... There have been cases of e.coli and salmonella attributed to end product containing this protein."

                                                        Are you sure about this? Can you document it? The Jack-in-the-Box incident occurred before the ammonia process was introduced.

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          Not sure if the cases where before ammonia was introduced.

                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            the Huff Post article linked here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8481... (above) has a link to the documented cases.

                                                            which begs the question -- if it's not meat (connective tissue and bone is, by definition, not meat -- only muscle tissue is meat), and it's not eliminating cases of infected meat, AND it's introducing a chemical about which there appears to be some questions of safety....

                                                            ....tell me again why this is such a great thing?

                                                            (I'm happily living where pink slime is outlawed, so cannot draw on any firsthand experience

                                                            )

                                                            Edit: I'm going to direct link to the article linked from HuffPost -- it's pretty disturbing:

                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/...

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              " AND it's introducing a chemical about which there appears to be some questions of safety...."

                                                              Where have you read this?

                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                in the same articles linked above. I'm not posting them again.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  I beg to differ. The NYT article does not mention any concern with the safety of ammonia.

                                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                                    there's mention in there about how samples had levels as high as other cases where school children had been sickened by the ammonia levels.

                                                                    And really. It's ammonia. I use it in my house -- but that doesn't mean I want to make a mustard vinaigrette with it.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      "Beef Products said the ammonia did not pose a danger and would be diluted when its beef was mixed with other meat. The U.S.D.A. accepted Beef Product’s conclusion"

                                                                      I have 24,000 gallons of completely potable chlorinated water in my backyard, but I wouldn't want to make soup out of chlorine.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Yes, but in a proper dilution many people would. In Chicago our drinking water is treated with chlorine at about 1ppm. Your pool has a concentration of about 30-50 times as much. So diluted 50 times I would have no problem drinking or cooking with it.

                                                                        1. re: ferret

                                                                          That was my point. Although I made it in a clunky manner. Should have said "bleach" at the end instead of cholrine.

                                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                                  "....tell me again why this is such a great thing?"

                                                                  It's cheap & easily disguised, with no labeling requirement.

                                                                  I used to look at at a nice, juicy hamburger and say " That looks good, I want one." Now I say, "hmm, I wonder what's in there." As B.B. used to say, "The thrill is gone."

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Where did you ge the idea that the finely textured lean ground beef was made of connective tissue and bone? I've only read that it is from fatty meat trimmings.

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      From Wikipedia
                                                                      Pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB) [2] and boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT),[3] is a beef-based food additive that may be added to ground beef and beef-based processed meats as an inexpensive filler.[4][5] It consists of finely ground beef scraps, sinew, fat, and connective tissue, which have been mechanically removed in a heated centrifuge at 100°F (38°C)[6] from the fat into liquid fat and a protein paste.[7][8] The recovered material is then processed, heated, and treated with ammonia gas[1] or citric acid to kill E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria.
                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slime

                                                                      1. re: Rmis32

                                                                        Do you have anything better than Wikipedia? I had to join that site just to correct a large error in fact about a former workplace.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/g...

                                                                          Pink Slime is not a quality beef product. It has to be highly processed in order to be even be *edible*. It is inferior in nutrition than muscle meat. It is more highly processed than muscle meat.

                                                                          I don't feed my family highly processed foods more than necessary. I am aware that some people eat highly processed foods all day long and it doesn't bother them. This is why it should be labeled, so people have a choice.

                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                            I don't disagree with anything in your second paragraph. When I think of highly processed foods I think of unpronounceable chemicals, salt, additives, etc. I'm not bothered by pink slime although I will confess it's unlikely that I ever ate much of it because I don't buy that kind of hamburger and I don't eat often at McDonald's.

                                                                            The processing that the lean finely textured ground beef goes through only separates the meat from the non-meat parts of the fatty meat. It is then exposed to ammonia fumes. If it is mixed with other ground been the residual ammonia is undetectable but enough to kill bacteria. If an ammonia odor can be detected in the final product in which it is used, then it was mixed improperly.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              This is the application of technology to recover meat that is otherwise not cost effective to extract.

                                                                              150 years ago, when more families lived on farms or raised their own animals, you didn't waste anything and found ways to extract maximum value from your animals. Industrial-scale butchery is about speed, not 100% efficiency, so parts that would have previously been used are not cost-effective to extract.

                                                                              LFTB simply uses technology to make the extraction of the unused parts cost-effective. It's not "lips and a$$holes" because those are easily extracted and already in use elsewhere. It's just bits of meat too close to bone or skin to make a clean extraction easily viable.

                                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                                When my dad was little and they butchered a hog it was his job to get one of the milking buckets and hold it under the animal to catch the blood for sausage.

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  I think I would use separate buckets.

                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                    Well, it was the Depression. I don't believe the buckets went unwashed between each use.

                                                                                2. re: ferret

                                                                                  <<<It's just bits of meat too close to bone or skin to make a clean extraction easily viable.>>>

                                                                                  No. It is not just "bits of meat". It is also tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, not normally consumed by humans without loads of processing to make it digestible. It forms 2 1/2 times more insoluble protein than muscle meat. Read the Iowa State University leaflet. It is not "beef is beef". There is a difference between processed beef cartilage and ground up muscle meat.

                                                                                  This is why you don't just eat 100% Pink Slime for a burger. It is inferior in every respect other than fat content. We would be better off if the cheap filler used was oat meal...then we could all agree to call it meatloaf and label it as such.

                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                    As I understand the process the 'bits' you mentioned are spun out of the lean beef.

                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                      Yes, I was responding to ferrets comment about it "just" being bits of "meat". Pink Slime is not just meat.

                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                        By the time they're done spinning out the fat it is. It is exposed to ammonia fumes, but with the proper mix with other ground beef it is not detectable. If it was, would not millions of McDonald's customers have been complaining for about 8 years?

                                                                3. re: Rmis32

                                                                  "Filler" by definition would not be made of meat.

                                                              2. re: iheartcooking

                                                                But it's not 1005 ground beef, which is what consumers think they are buying. Proof in labeling, please.

                                                        2. re: tommy

                                                          imho, pink slime did not make beef affordable, it made it legal to sell garbage to people and to label the stuff as beef.

                                                        3. re: Rmis32

                                                          It's as "real" as any other processed food we eat. A big part of the problem here is that there is a perception of deception.

                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            I agree with you about the perception of deception. I would rather eat a burger with the added finely textured lean ground beef than a burger with soy protein and a bunch of other additives.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              "Finely textured lean ground beef " sounds ok, but It consists of finely ground beef scraps, sinew, fat, and connective tissue, which sounds a bit less appealing. As far as additives, the recovered material is then processed, heated, and treated with ammonia gas. I think I'll pass.

                                                              1. re: Rmis32

                                                                "Connective tissue" from chuck goes into beef stew all the time, and is thought by some to be a good thing. The real problem with the product is that it must be heated to a temperature which fosters bacterial growth, which must then be dealt with chemically.

                                                                1. re: Rmis32

                                                                  I know exactly what it is thank you. Please read the post from GH1618.

                                                                  It is much safer to eat lean finely textured beef than cantelope or fresh spinach.

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    Fresh spinach? The only reason spinach is "dangerous" is because giant CAFO operations can't adequately deal with the amount of sh*t they create. They pump that stuff directly into local watersystems or it leaches out of lagoons into the groundwater, either way it carries its bacteria with it.

                                                                    Pink slime is the same material used to make charcuterie. The problem isn't the substance but the description "beef" which people typically associate with muscle tissue. That, for example, is why we have words like "tallow" or "connective tissue". There's no reason to throw away this material, but the use of ammonia is worrying.

                                                                    Overall, I think the 'pink slime' issue distracts us from the much bigger problems, like CAFO operations themselves, their exploitation of workers, pollution of local environments, and treatment of the animals.

                                                                    1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                      None of what you wrote in your post changes the facts which I pointed out in my post to which you replied.

                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        How so? What is so inherently dangerous about spinach? Honestly, I am curious.

                                                                        1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                          He didn't say it was "inherently" dangerous, but was probably thinking of the incident in 2006 in which the crop of a large commercial grower of spinach was contaminated with e-coli, resulting in many cases of illness and three deaths. Spinach is often eaten raw, whereas LFTB is always processed to kill bacteria.

                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                            Right. Spinach isn't more dangerous than LFTB. Animal-raising operations, especially concentrated animal feedlot operations, have the ability to contaminate anything that grows around them. The 2006 e.coli outbreak was specifically due to a cattle-raising operation. Saying that raw vegetables are more dangerous than LFTB is myopic.

                                                                            1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                              It has not been established whether the spinich incident was related to concentrated cattle. The contamination may have come from feral swine. Spinach is, indeed, more dangerous when eaten uncooked. It's just not "inherent."

                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                Statistics are not on your side. Getting e. coli from beef is much more common than from spinach. Secondly, you are confusing cause with effect: cows infect spinach, spinach doesn't magically acquire e. coli. Spinach grown in my house hydroponically or in my backyard is not more dangerous raw than LTFB. It seems the beef industry has its spokesmen out on Chowhound!

                                                                                1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                  The comparison was not to "beef" but to "lean, finely textured beef" specifically. Since the development of the ammonia treatment, LFTB should not be a source of e-coli in beef to which it is added. I'm not worried about it, anyway.

                                                                                  The real scandal is that the product was introduced without the treatment. That was developed after the Jack-in-the-Box incident, which caused the deaths of four children. It should have been obvious that the heat treatment necessary would foster the growth of bacteria. That's old news now, however.

                                                                                  If you are implying that I am a spokesman, you are mistaken. I am retired, have never had any relationship to food producers, and speak for no one but myself.

                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                    Gee, if we could just get that amonia on our spinach, what a wonderful world it would be.

                                                                      2. re: fame da lupo

                                                                        I was just snacking on some brie and noted a distinct ammonia smell - not overpowering but clearly there. It's part of the cheese's flavor profile, and more prominent in some cheese than others. All "natural" but ammonia nonetheless. I'm not trying to pick a fight, and the FTB should have been explicitly labeled, but should we also label cheese that contains ammonia?

                                                                        1. re: ferret

                                                                          if your Brie smells like ammonia, it's over the hill and should be tossed.

                                                                          Good Brie shouldn't ever taste like ammonia.

                                                                          won't hurt you, but it makes it smell and taste funky and indicates that it's too old.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            It was a good brie and wasn't "old" (I've smelled bries that have gone bad and the ammonia was overpowering). It didn't taste of ammonia but it had an ammonia note in its profile. Certainly not the first time I've noticed but it was the most recent. It's not uncommon in mold-ripened cheeses. So ammonia is ammonia, whether you add it or nature adds it.

                                                                            1. re: ferret

                                                                              If you like it and you're happy with it - - as I said, it won't hurt you. But if it smells like ammonia, it's over the hill -- I live in the Brie region, and all of my cheesemongers, and the cheesemaker I visit from time to time, have all cautioned me to pitch it when it starts to smell like ammonia.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                You're pitching it because the cheese is overripe. Not because the ammonia is "bad" or poison.

                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                  Yes -- and I said that -- twice, no less. It was a side comment that hey, Brie shouldn't smell like ammonia.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    Yup. Gotcha. I see you didn't suggest it was bad, but I was saying that for the benefit of those who think it is.

                                                                2. re: GH1618

                                                                  If its added to generic "Ground beef or ground hamburger" its one thing because a lot of latitude is given as to what goes into the grind and where it comes from. My question is has it also been added to "cut specific" such as ground round, ground sirloin or ground chuck? If the answer is yes than the term deception should be replaced with the term FRAUD.

                                                                  I knew a butcher years ago who was busted several times for adding Kidneys (old butchers secrete) to stretch his grind. Bought them by the case he did, paid the small fine when caught and kept right on doing it. Nobody was allowed in the walkin when he was grinding.

                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                    Talk about adding 'ammonia' to ground beef.....

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      Hey, many people in the "know" have been grinding their own for years because of wide spread shady practices, the desire to eat it rare and also for far superior flavor. I would still like to know if the addition of P/S was added to the cut specific products. Maybe GH1618 knows.

                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                        I wonder what the regulations are. Perhaps they are similar to the wine industry, where you label your bottle as "cabernet", but contain a certain percentage of other varieties. No one screams "FRAUD" when they understand the rules.

                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                          With wine, many people would argue adding a certain % of other varieties actually improves the flavor just like many people prefer blended scotch over single malts. Somebody must like the J.W. Blue blend to be paying $160.00 a 5th. Having said that, I am by no means a P/S expert, but I doubt adding P/S to a "premium" grind like sirloin is going to improve the flavor and if I am paying a serious premium $ for sirloin, that's what I want, not P/S..

                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            Just wondering what the "rule" is around it. Using wine as an example of such a rule.

                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                              Actually your wine example is a good one. I would have to think there are rules but how strict they are and what loopholes they contain probably depends on how proficient the meat lobby was with spreading campaign contributions when the laws were written.

                                                                              How strictly the rules are currently enforced are probably tied to the current beef industry $$$ lobbying effort.

                                                                        2. re: Tom34

                                                                          No, I don't know. There are many producers of ground meat products and, as you just pointed out, some of them are shady operators.

                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            I sometimes grind hamburger for our own use but not too often anymore because we get grass fed beef from our cattle farmer tenant. We let him cut the alfalfa off our open ground and he gives us beef.

                                                                            What I wonder about the product at hand is how many local grocery store meat departments added it to their grind? I asked a younger cousin of mine who is a meat cutter in a small town and they never did. I think it mostly went to commercial operations such as the big hamburger 'factories' that packaged the ground beef into chubs or the commercial customers such as McDonald's.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              Actually, MOST of the major grocery store chains used it in MOST of their grinds.There were threads about that here. Several hounds called their favorite store and specifically asked. Pink Slime also went into "premium" priced ground beef.... not just the cheap stuff. While none of them mentioned it before- when the controversy hit- everyone was quick to say they would stop using it...so essentially they "outed" themselves, so it's not just speculation.

                                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                                I specifically said 'local' grocery store. I was not referring to Supervalu which is the dominant grocer in the Twin Cities. "Finely textured beef primarily has been used in prepackaged hamburger in Supervalu stores, not hamburger ground on site". This was my other point. You can tell the difference between hamburger ground at your local store and that which is shipped in. Supervalu sold hamburger with the finely textured lean ground beef that was ground off-site. I never purchase hamburger like that even when I was buying hamburger at the store.

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  Yes, I understand. It is reported that even when the stores grind their hamburger on site- they mixed in the bricks of Pink Slime. Albertsons, Target, Walmart, Stop and Shop, Safeway, etc. It is estimated that 70 percent of ALL beef products sold in grocery stores across America had this in it. Local or not, grind their own or not.
                                                                                  There were only a handful of stores that reported that they "never" used it. One store was Costco the other one was Publix.

                                                                                  BTW, I also rarely purchased this type of meat so I really didn't pay attention until it blasted across the U.S. But I did buy it on occasion. I would not have expected my premium grind (in store grind, at Safeway) would have Pink Slime in it. I was wrong.

                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                    As I said numerous times, I never had to avoid the 'problem' because it was not in the mix at my store. The 70 % is for the beef, not 70% of the stores. Hell, because of the number of stores the large chains have it might be more.

                                                                                  2. re: John E.

                                                                                    It was as high as 70% of all ground beef in the US. Which to me means that ground beef from the US should be banned from import into other countries (that do not allow Ammonia) since the likelihood of it containing it and the exporter lying is quite high.

                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                      I've read that the ammonium hydroxide process is approved my most countries, including the European Union, and have not been able to find documentation showing where beef treated with ammonium hydroxide is prohibited. Can you document this?

                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                        I believe that Pink Slime is "banned" in EU because of the processing of it (mechanically separated meat from bovines is prohibited). Remember mad cow disease and all....not due to the ammonia.

                                                                                        However, in Canada, the ammonia is NOT approved for use in ground beef. They use citric acid or something. I am not sure if Canadians use mechanically separated bovine meat. I shop in Canada frequently as I am only 20 minutes away. Canadian officials are being a bit "vague" about their ground beef processing info. They are touting that they "don't use Pink Slime"..but my guess is that they do the same process but clean it up with citric acid instead.

                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                          Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a big concern. Japan suspended import of all US ground beef awhile back because of this.

                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                            Yeah, I know.... when I returned from UK to Canada they would not accept my blood :p

                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                              How many confirmed cases of BSE have there been in U.S. cattle?

                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                I don't know, but the embargo of US beef by Japan in 2003 was based on a single animal. It's an indication of what they consider serious enough to warrant an import embargo. It isn't the use of ammonium hydroxide.

                                                                                        2. re: cacruden

                                                                                          Of for Pete's sake are you for real? The plants that processed the finely textured lean ground beef are all closed? Why would you wish to do damage to the American cattle industry?

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            Did I say ban cattle - nope. I said ground beef. Will still accept whole carcass and whole cattle.

                                                                                            1. re: cacruden

                                                                                              I don't know how much pre-ground beef is exported to other countries but why on earth would you wish to damage an industry that a. already stopped the practice that you consider to be bad and b. does not affect you? (Unless of course you do not live in the U.S.) Again, the 'problem' has been solved. Your proposal is one of the worst ideas I have ever read on this site.

                                                                                              By the way, that 70% of all ground beef again is because the biggest grocery store chains were using the finely textured lean ground beef. That does not to say that all stores or all parts of the country were exposed to it. The numbers can be deceiving.

                                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                                              The American cattle industry needs no help from anyone to damage it...they're doing fine on their own with the growth hormones, antibiotics, and other stuff they feed the cows. It's no surprise that other countries reject American beef.
                                                                                              I haven't given up eating beef entirely, but I certainly eat a lot less of it given the decline in quality. And often, I'll opt for beef from Australia.

                                                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                You're changing the subject. cacruden wished to stop exporting American ground beef because of a problem that does not exist.

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  No importing, I would be on the buying side...... Customer is always right :o

                                                                                                  1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                    You're ok because there is no more 'pink slime'. The plants are all closed.

                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                      I understand that BPI still has one plant operating in South Sioux City, Nebraska.

                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                        You are correct. It seems Governor Branstad and the HyVee Grocery chain have some influence.

                                                                                                        http://www.omaha.com/article/20120329...

                                                                                                        We do know however that there is no longer widespread use of the product.

                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                            This is a tough one John with the store ground. A good friend of mine is an old school master butcher (large volume purveyor to top restaurants) who still brings in hanging beef and therefore he always has plenty of HIGH quality meat scraps to grind. He told me about 95% of the industry is now cutting boxed beef which yields far less good quality scraps and therefore its a common practice to mix "coarse" ground from the packing houses into the store ground to make it go further. That kind of brings things full circle because just what was in the coarse ground that was blended into the good stuff?

                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                              Fortunately for me we rarely buy hamburger at a grocery store. We get grass fed beef fed with out own clover.

                                                                                          3. re: sedimental

                                                                                            I asked (by e-mail) the supermarket where I usually buy ground beef (Rayley's/Nob Hill) whether they use LFTB. They never responded.

                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                              Yeah, silence is golden (unless you are a pink slime producer). Their silence on this really bit them in the rear. I bet the stores just want this to go away now. It's been quite a s**t storm.

                                                                                              I appreciate that the sensationalistic aspect to this story got waaaay more people involved in paying attention to their food and asking questions though. I view this as a good thing.

                                                                                2. re: Rmis32

                                                                                  +1

                                                                                  I certainly wouldn't shed a tear if someone put Monsanto (for example) out of work and all their employees instead went to work on smaller, family-owned farms like Niman Ranch, Polyface, etc.

                                                                                3. Would prefer "grocery" stores focus on things that bring people into the store more often.
                                                                                  - Redirect resources to making freshly made ready made dinners that your mom would be proud to serve.
                                                                                  - Fresh produce - it would be preferable if they made it easier to sell small quantities - maybe vegetable sets (here they will bundle enough of certain vegetables together that make a dish - like lime leaves + lime + lemon grass + galangal for example for tom yum soup).. If you sell in smaller quantities you can bring people in more often and then upsell on the non-parishables before they get to the cash registers.

                                                                                  Basically -- innovate for your customers -- don't slime them :p

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cacruden

                                                                                    I can't speak for other areas of the country but here in rural texas outside of Austin there's a movement to get more farm to table produce from farmer's markets rather than grocery chains. It has been found that even places like Whole Foods and Sprouts are selling imported produce from either South America or China.

                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                      Trader Joe's already does that with one product: guacamole.
                                                                                      in their produce department they sell a product in a styrene box with contains:
                                                                                      2 fresh avocados
                                                                                      1 fresh lime
                                                                                      1 shallot
                                                                                      1 small tomato
                                                                                      1 clove of garlic

                                                                                      essentially, it is a "kit" with which the buyer can make their own guacamole

                                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                                          Does not need to be a styrene box - just a plastic bag with ingredients. I appreciate a grocery chain trying to sell me stuff and save me money at the same time -- so cheers Trader Joe (although I only know it through this forum).

                                                                                      1. re: cacruden

                                                                                        Careful with those pre cooked items found in all the big supermarkets as soon as you walk in the front door these days. Its not the stuff that came in that day their cooking up. Most of it would ordinarily be thrown out (expired) but cooking it added days of life to the product at a very cheap cost to the store. .

                                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                                          Not sure why that matters. "Expired" doesn't necessarily mean that it has gone "off", it just basically means 'last sale date'.
                                                                                          The stuff doesn't magically go bad on that day.

                                                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                                                            I used to sell a lot of fish and the freshest stuff went to the best restaurants and fish mongers & commanded big bucks. The older stuff (called them gumbies because they were soft) went to the diners as low as .25 cents per pound. They were still perfectly safe to eat but did not have the great taste and texture of the good stuff. Yes there are some food products which get better with age but most don't and any high end chef will tell you that which is why they pay a premium to get the fresh stuff.

                                                                                            If the supermarkets price for the cooked products reflected the age of the ingredients it would be one thing, but they don't !!! Every industry has its little trade secretes and this is a big one for the supermarkets.

                                                                                            1. re: The Professor

                                                                                              If in doubt, smell a piece of properly handled raw chicken that is only a couple days off the date on the pack box it was shipped in. Then smell a properly handled raw piece of chicken on the last sell by date. Then smell a properly handled piece of raw chicken which was relabeled after the first expiration came and went. If your nose functions properly, a distinctly stronger unpleasant odor will be present as the age increases. Keep in mind though the older stuff is great in a crab trap!

                                                                                              Then google supermarket chains "relabeling" expired products. Huge scandals in this area.

                                                                                              BTW, the nose doesn't lie which is why most of the items are deep fried or smothered in a strong sauce to mask the smell. (Brother used to work in one)

                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                anybody remember the Food Lion exposé back in the mid-90s? Put me off pre-marinated and pre-sauced foods forever -- it was truly nasty, and I'm not a germophobe.

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  I don't specifically remember that one but there have been several highly publicized investigations involving the big chain stores re-dating expired products and putting them back on the shelf.

                                                                                                  The next shoe to drop is the Plumping / Pumping of products like chicken / pork / farm raised shell fish with water and other "NATURAL" ingredients.

                                                                                        2. Here's a link to an article giving the history of the development of the product, up to the current controversy:

                                                                                          http://www.businessweek.com/articles/...

                                                                                          1. If the addition of pink slime is limited to non specific ground beef I don't have a problem with it because its pretty much common knowledge that generic ground beef contains meat from many different parts of the animal and its significantly lower price reflects that. If it is being added to Ground Chuck, Ground Round or Ground Sirloin then the label should reflect the addition of any products added that are not from the specific cut being advertised on the label.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                              I think a big part of this is that it's not common knowledge.

                                                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                                                COMMON KNOWLEDGE

                                                                                                When it comes to not knowing exactly whats in non cut specific ground beef / ground hamburger, I think the public is partly at fault because most people new it wasn't a pretty picture and didn't want to know the fine details (out of sight out of mind) and I think it is also the beef industries fault because they didn't want to paint a picture with all the details people didn't want to see (Let sleeping dogs lie).

                                                                                              2. re: Tom34

                                                                                                judging by the number of friends and acquaintances that seemed to think that this was NEW information, i've concluded that this was FAR from "common knowledge."

                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                  "Common knowledge" referred to the fact that most people don't know exactly whats in generic ground beef (Long standing joke) and don't really want to know and the industry was not is a rush to tell the public something it didn't want to know and probably wouldn't understand. Fact is though that for anybody who really wanted to find out the info was easy to find.

                                                                                                  Same thing with plumped / pumped chicken and pork. Everyone knows that juice doesn't POUR out of these products NATURALLY when cooked well done. The label even states up to a certain % water and natural ingredients added. Most people don't care, as long as it is cheap and moist no matter how bad they screw up the cooking process they don't want to know the fine details.

                                                                                                  The reason people question these practices on sites like Chowhound is the great interest in food that brought them to this site to begin with. That's a good thing.