All of these years, you’ve been laboring under the misapprehension that the meat you’re eating at restaurants and the meat you’re purchasing from grocery stores, is, in fact, meat. In my head, it went down something like this:
A cow is born in a verdant meadow. It spends its cow days happily suckling on its mother and eating green wads of fresh grass and flowers. Then, quietly, a bolt of lightning comes from the sky and the cow goes to cow heaven. The meat from the cow is ground once through a very clean machine, using a medium-gauge metal die, and then packaged for my consumption. Or lovingly prepared by my local fast food chain for my drunk consumption.
Alas! In recent weeks we have discovered that this is not the case! Let’s say we just continue to think that whole bit about the pre-death life of cows. Meadows, larks, gentle bees, fresh air…HA. But let’s just go with it. We have now discovered that after the cow has been ground up, they are adding gunk to it. Not delicious gunk such as sea salt and Worcestershire sauce. I’m talking about “pink slime.”
While “pink slime” sounds like the evil force that oozes out of sewers to take unsuspecting cities by storm in a B-list horror flick, that’s not what it is at all. Its an evil force that oozes out of manufacturers to take your dinner by storm IN REAL LIFE.
Pink slime, otherwise known as “lean finely textured beef” or “LFTB,” is a sterile filler that is allowed to comprise up to 15% of the beef you buy. Its created by taking the inedible scraps of beef (sinew, fat, scrapings) and heating them in a centrifuge to separate the protein into a paste and the fat into a liquid. The paste then gets disinfected with ammonia (which is a poisonous substance) to kill off all of the E-coli that may have gotten mixed in accidentally via cow manure.
Are you hungry yet?
Then, the disinfected protein paste gets frozen into hunks and ground up with your beef so that the manufacturer can make extra money without providing you extra deliciousness.
This has been going on in the human food chain since 2001. Before then, it was limited to pet food but it has only recently caused a stir of any kind. ABC did a series of news reports on it in March of this year, and the public uproar was astounding. Americans were ANGRY that we were being fed disinfected feces and dog food products.
Since the ABC series most of the major fast food chains have vowed not to use pink slime anymore, which unfortunately means that there is more available to serve to our children in schools. While critics of pink slime say that children shouldn’t be fed something so repulsive, it is currently still on the table for schools to choose over the more expensive, un-slimed beef. A quick Google search will tell you if your local grocer stocks beef with pink slime.
While the idea of poopy scraps soaked in ammonia and smooshed into a liquid is a mega-turnoff on its own, things are just getting worse for big beef. The recent discovery of Mad Cow disease in our beef supply means that the dangers involved with consuming a commercial burger or steak are in our face now more than ever. Whether you’re just grossed out, or scared for your life, this is the time to put some thought into where your meat comes from.
Related: Centrifuges, ammonia, and freezing won’t protect you from mad cow disease.
There is good news on the other side of this coin, though. While the Big Cattle Battle rages on in our newsfeeds and grocery stores, local markets are on the rise. Check out Eatwild.com for responsible, local cattle farmers who can provide you with fresh, safe, healthy beef for your family dinners. Your local farmer isn’t going to give you 15% slurry, and they’re in a much smaller population of checks and balances for diseases like mad cow. Plus, it’s better for the environment and your pocketbook. If a local farmer isn’t an option for you, certified USDA organic ground beef is pink slime free.
Photo credit of Kristie @ Thespitefulchef.com