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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Pink Slime Meat, the Finely Textured Lean Beef

What is pink slime and how is it made? It's a meat filler made from low grade trimmings and contaminated animal parts. It is simmered on low heat to separate the tissues from fat and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide to kill the germs accumulated from contamination.

Manufacturers are allowed under USDA rules to add up to 15% of the filler in ground beef to be considered safe. And, this is another situation where no labeling requirements are required to tell consumers what is in the products because it is considered a manufacturing process. Consumers who purchase ground beef, other than 'organic' or 'grass fed' clearly labeled 'no ammonia added', where it is not allowed, are probably consuming pink slime without knowing it.

The critics argue that ammonia hydroxide has a role in pink slime the same as the role in cheese, baked goods, and some chocolate. It has been shown ammonium hydroxide acts as a leavening agent in baked goods, acidity in cheese, and some chocolate products. When it is heated, the ammonia gas is released and does not stay in the food. Which brings the question of safety in the filler where ammonium hydroxide is added after the heating process. It is made up of nitrogen and hydrogen from natural sources.

According to chemical fact sheets, ammonium hydroxide is made by diluting anhydrous ammonia, a colorless, corrosive, and highly irritating gas, in water. The anhydrous ammonia is produced from a process of mixing nitrogen and hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst or as a by-product of petroleum refining processes. Diluting it in water may make it a safer alternative, but it still contains health hazards. Respiratory problems can still come from low concentrations.

The only way to avoid pink slime beef is to look for meat labeled as 'grass fed beef' that is clearly labeled 'no ammonia added'. Even though, some other products may not contain this filler, there is no way to adequately know without the proper labeling. It is considered a manufacturing process that does not require the proper labeling for consumers to know its presence, therefore the transparency in labeling is not required.

Even with critics arguing the safety of pink slime, is it appropriate to use contaminated parts of animals in the food supply system where diseased animals are not allowed to be used? What's the difference? Is one contamination different than another? Is not contamination still contamination regardless of the source? What do you think?

Rebecca is passionate about spreading education on how toxins are added to manufacturing processes and what research says about them. In efforts to reduce toxins in our own environment, it is imperative to educate oneself about how to avoid bringing toxins home from the grocery store by way of products.

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