Pink slime is one of the most talked-about food controversies in history, outraging people across the country. Also referred to as “lean beef trimmings”, pink slime is actually a mixture of connective tissue and low quality beef scraps used as filler for ground beef. The product is produced by Beef Products Inc., a meat processing company founded in 1981.
What’s the Big Deal about Pink Slime?
The parts of the cow that are used to make pink slime are among those that are most susceptible to E. coli and salmonella. Because of this, pink slime is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill any bacteria before it is added to ground beef. Although the USDA has deemed pink slime safe, may people still question whether ammonium hydroxide can effectively kill bacteria that causes foodbourne illnesses and whether or not ammonium hydroxide is truly safe for human consumption.
Served since the 1990’s, pink slime has been used in everything from fast food burgers to school lunches. Chef Jamie Oliver brought the substance to the attention of the American public in his Food Revolution television series in the spring of 2011, prompting McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King to announce that as of January 2012 they would no longer use pink slime in their meat. An estimated 7 million pounds of the 111.5 million pounds of ground beef the USDA contracted to buy for the National School Lunch Program contains pink slime. However, next fall schools will be given a choice between 95% lean beef patties made with pink slime or less lean bulk ground beef that does not contain the filler. Many school systems, including Miami-Dade in Florida, say that they will opt for pink-slime free ground beef next school year.
In March 2012, ABC News reported that 70% of the ground beef sold in supermarkets in the United States contains pink slime, a fact that was largely unbeknownst to most Americans. As of now, meat suppliers are not required to disclose the additive on labels for ground beef sold in stores.
How Can I Ensure that I Don’t Serve Beef with Pink Slime?
The best way to ensure that you do not serve beef with pink slime to your customers is to grind your own beef. Commercial meat grinders are inexpensive and easy to use. There are two basic types of meat grinders, manual and electric. Well-suited for light-volume applications and home use, manual meat grinders use a cranking handle and interchangeable grinding plates to grind beef to desired consistencies. Easy to secure to countertops or work tables, manual meat grinders can also be outfitted with sausage stuffers. Best for high-volume establishments, supermarkets, and butcher shops electric meat grinders are efficient and affordable, offering compact designs and a wide range of plates and attachments.