Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

A startling fact on how common pink slime is and where it will show up in your food.

Is Potentially Dangerous Pink Slime in Your Hamburger?

The recent headline that McDonald’s is removing the “pink slime” additives from their hamburgers has enraged people that it was there to begin with.  The issue does not stop with McDonald’s, other fast food chains and even supermarkets can use and sell this beef byproduct without having to inform the consumers.  Most shocking is that since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) endorsed this practice, nearly 5.5 million pounds of pink slime was used by the federal school lunch program in 2011 alone.  Protect yourself and your family from beef scraps that were once relegated to pet food and cooking oils, learn the facts and help keep it out of a child’s lunch.

What is Pink Slime and Why is it Used?

Pink Slime in HamburgersIf you are planning to eat a hamburger in the near future you should pay very close attention to this next section.  When a cow is butchered, there are small pieces or sections that are not considered safe or desirable for human consumption.  These fatty trimmings or scraps have a higher tendency for E. coli and salmonella to be present, thus until recently they were only used in pet food or cooking oils.  However, a company name Beef Products Inc., developed a technique that liquefies the trimmings, runs them through a centrifuge to separate the fat from the protein, then injects it with ammonia in an attempt to kill the dangerous bacteria and other harmful pathogens.  The end result is a pink slime that can be added to ground beef to help reduce costs and act as a filler ingredient.

I am not a scientist, but ammonia is the active ingredients in many toxic cleaning products and I just can’t imagine that is healthy to put in your body.  The USDA has a different opinion, saying it is safe, so safe the industry does not even have to expose these ingredients on the labels of our ground beef.  In some cases, your hamburger meat could contain up to 15% of this pink slime – that sure is appetizing.  The N.Y. Times reported that one of the USDA’s own microbiologists sent an internal e-mail stating, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”

How to Make Sure “Pink Slime” is Not in Your Hamburger

For those of you already on a strict organic only diet you likely don’t have to be concerned here due to the organic labeling procedures.  However, if you your child attends public school and eats their lunch offerings they will likely be ingesting pink slime.  You should also avoid buying ground beef at the grocery store labeled “hamburger” unless you personally saw the butcher grind it up.  Using products that say ground sirloin, ground chuck and similar should not have it as they are from a specific cut of meat.  The most sure fire way to avoid pink slime is to either ground the meat yourself or watch your local butcher do it for you.  Don’t forget that some fast food chains use this treated meat as well, be sure to consider this before your next value meal.

We personally found this information to be appalling and were quite concerned for our own family.  As part of our sustainable lifestyle, we always pack lunch for our children, though we had frequented the fast food chains and likely were exposed from the supermarket as well.  Using the above tips we are trying to avoid it, we have also begun to write our local congressional leaders and school board to ensure the practice is stopped.

Image: federico stevanin

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