Just Weird – Grind together connective tissue, beef scraps, then flavor with ammonia hydroxide – to kill salmonella and other E. coli – and voila, you have hamburgers for school children. The recipe comes from Beef Products Inc., and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is purchasing seven million pounds of it to make hamburgers for school lunches.
A decade ago, Gerald Zirnstein, former microbiologist at the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), said he did not “consider the stuff to be ground beef,” and Carl Custer, also of the FSIS, agrees with him.
“We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”
Yet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture still serves the product, nicknamed “pink slime,” in schools. Custer first encountered the product in the late 1990s after becoming exposed to it through British chef Jamie Oliver. Even though Custer brought the treated product to the attention of colleagues at the time, the USDA ruled that the so-called “Lean Beef Trimmings” were safe for consumption.
“Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein said of BPI’s product which they consider a “high-risk” product. Many fast food chains have ceased using the product, including McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Burger King; The USDA, however, plans on buying 7 million lbs. of the beef byproduct from BPI for school lunches.
In their defense the USDA said the role of food service inspectors was to insure purchases met “the highest standard in food safety,” and not to determine the merits of purchased products.
Sadly, it seems as if it is impossible to escape even a little bit of “pink slime.” In 2005 the USDA limited the so-called Lean Beef Trimmings percentage in a serving of ground beef to 15 percent. However, labeling doesn’t reveal inclusion of the product or ammonia-treatment.
“It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger, plus it’s treated with ammonia, an additive that is not declared anywhere,” Custer said.
“They’ve taken a processed product, without labeling it, and added it to raw ground beef. […] pink slime at this point in time is a fraudulent lie,” added Zirnstein, who, as the father of a two-year-old son, does not want him encountering the product when in school.
Does this in anyway remind you of the video clip below?
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