I’ve just read an article about a tour of a “lean finely textured beef” factory, taken by three governors of beef-producing states, and ABC News. In it, the company and the governors try very, very, very hard to convince the reader that “lean finely textured beef” is getting a bad rap, and can we quit calling it “pink slime”, and just shut up and eat it, please?
Not just no, but Hell. No.
To put it quite plainly, I don’t have to eat anything I don’t want to eat. I don’t have to feed my family anything I don’t want to feed them. So why do you feel you must try so hard to convince me to eat this “lean finely textured beef”, which is made from trimmings, fat and connective tissue, processed to remove most of the fat, leaving behind mostly protein, and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill any pathogens in it?
Ask Eldon N. Roth, founder and owner of Beef Products, Inc. Better yet, watch Food, Inc. He’ll tell you all about his “beef product”, and show you how it’s made.
Have you and I already unknowingly eaten this product? Sure we have, if we have had at least a hamburger or two at one of the big fast food chains in the last few years. They all, until recently, purchased ground meat patties containing it.
Have our children been served this product without our knowledge or consent? Most certainly, as school lunch programs started to buy ground meat patties containing it years ago to save pennies on the pound. Your tax dollars at work.
The link above is to a NY Times article from 2009. It includes background on Mr. Roth, Beef Products, Inc., the involvement of the USDA and school lunch officials, and the process by which “lean finely textured beef” comes into being. It also describes the distastefulness of the first incarnation of the product, the strong ammonia smell and bad flavor.
They are trying to say it makes your ground beef safer. There is no definitive data to support this. There is no study showing meat-pathogenic infections have dropped since the addition of “lean finely textured beef” to ground beef. Actually, we hear of more and more ground beef recalls each year. As a matter of fact, although the “lean finely textured beef” is sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill pathogens like the nasty E. coli, “ground beef” containing “lean finely textured beef” has been tested and found to STILL CONTAIN E. coli and other pathogens. The NY Times article also contains information on this.
Perhaps the kicker of this whole situation is Beef Products, Inc., is trying to say they are making meat more sustainable because they are eliminating waste. I would laugh at this if it didn’t make me cry. The trimmings they are using to make “lean finely textured beef” weren’t ever going to waste. They are most often destined for pet food factories. Yep. Eldon N. Roth is one damn fine genius, because he figured out how to turn pet food into people food, and people food can be sold at a higher price than pet food, so bigger profits result. (The discussion about what should actually be in pet food is for another blog, another day.) My question for Mr. Roth, and damn fine geniuses in general, is, “Just because we can, does that mean we should?”
In the last two weeks or so, virtually every fast food giant, major grocery store chain, and food distributor have dropped Beef Products, Inc., products from their menus and shelves, citing “consumer concerns”. The federal school lunch program is now giving schools a choice: meat with, or without “lean finely textured beef”. Although the meat without it will be more expensive, school districts are finding a way to afford it, due to “parent concerns”.
One more article for you by Michael Greger, M.D., Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States: Pink Slime: All About The Green. The green as in dollars. This one is worth your time, too.
So, the only ones left defending “pink slime” are the fine folks who make it, make money selling it, and the politicians and others who defend these fine folks and receive money in return. I’d love to know what’s on their dinner table tonight.
See you on The Road.