Posted on March 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM by Iowa Corn
This is part of series of articles called, What’s All the Hype? The goal of this series is to answer questions about food and how it is raised and grown. If you have a topic that you have questions about, please leave it in the comments section!
Truth be told I was going to write about the use of crop protection products this week, but this "Pink Slime" slinging has made my blood boil!
Like most people, I love a good hamburger (of course made with 93% lean ground beef) so let's get rid of the term "Pink Slime", it's un-appetizing and sounds gross. What we are talking about is lean finely textured beef or lean beef trimmings mixed with ground beef to make that juicy hamburger on your plate. Lean beef trimmings have been used for almost two decades.
What exactly are lean beef trimmings?
Lean beef trimmings are processed from beef that is trimmed from steaks and roasts, this product is 100% beef. Usually these cuts have a high percentage of fat, so a process was developed that separates the lean muscle tissue from the fat (and I'm all for that!). This prevents the waste of lean, healthy beef. The process that is used is very similar to the way that we separate cream from milk. The resulting product from this is very low fat (95+% lean), which many consumers desire.
This is what lean beef trimmings looks like.
Is it safe to eat, because "Slime" doesn't sound that safe?
Lean beef trimmings have been mixed with ground beef for almost two decades and is declared safe by the USDA and FDA. Not to mention that all beef products are strictly regulated and inspected by the USDA. Inspectors are at these plants every day to make sure they are produced in a safe manner (I can testify to this as I spent one summer working in a beef plant in Denison).
What about the use of Ammonium Hydroxide?
Most of the "Hype" seems to be around the use of food grade ammonium hydroxide. It's a scientific name, I know, but it is basically ammonia and water that is turned into a gas. A puff of this gas slightly raises the pH and destroys bacteria that could make someone sick. While the use of ammonium hydroxide doesn't eliminate the risk of getting sick, the risk of food borne illness is greatly reduced.
Besides being used in your hamburger meat it is also used to produce a number of products such as puddings and baked goods. In fact there is more ammonium hydroxide in the bun (440 ppm) than in your hamburger meat (200 ppm).
What's all the hype?
So if the product and process is safe and healthy, what's all the hype? I wish I could answer that question. The whole "Pink Slime" issue seems to be slinging by misinformed media, activist groups and uninformed consumers. We have the safest food supply in the world and it is wrong that those who eat safe beef are being fed false information!
For more information on lean beef trimmings visit the following links: