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Big Three Fast-Food Companies Say NO to Pink Slime

| Tuesday January 24th, 2012 | 18 Comments

Food Safety Network recently reported that fast-food giants McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King are no longer going to be using ammoniated beef in their products. Ammoniated beef is just a fancy name for ‘pink slime’ which has been the subject of controversy the past few years.

Pink slime is made by Beef Products Inc. which came up with the idea of using fatty beef trimmings from the slaughterhouse floor. These scraps are ground into a paste and then passed through a machine that separates out the fat. Then the final product is sprayed with ammonia to kill pathogens like E.coli and antibiotic-resistant bacteria like Salmonella.

Taco Bell even got sued over this issue over pink slime. Jamie Oliver has been talking widely about it and probably has acted as a major catalyst for fast-food companies to drop the ingredient. New York Times reported that over 5.5  million pounds of ammoniated beef was used in school lunches in 2008. And the stuff is USDA approved, which means that fast-food companies have readily added it to their hamburger products. Now, after several Salmonella outbreaks and health-scares, the big three fast-food companies have declared to not use pink slime in their products.

After several years of bad press, all three companies have decided to stop using ammoniated beef. Both Burger King and McDonald’s released statements to say that their move was in no way connected to the negative press and Taco Bell did not release any statement.

For several reasons, the pink slime does not come under scrutiny, mostly because food safety experts believed that the added ammonia works to kill pathogens effectively, however NYT stated that:

Government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the USDA about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and Salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

By pledging not to use pink slime anymore, the big three of fast-food might actually be making food supplies a little safer. However, considering the amount of time it took for these companies to change their sourcing policies, this is not a decision merely from the CSR point of view. It is more a case of making sure they don’t have any more negative press regarding food safety.

Image Credit: Hamburgers on a Grill. Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©

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  • Crjolley

    Nicelyy ‘loaded’ commentary but no real research behind it. Your facts are wrong in almost every instance.  next time, do a little digging to find out what’s true and what’s not before you write.

    • Torrance

      What facts are wrong?

  • Meat Guy

    Good work Chuck!

  • Balboa Sam

    Badly written, but the point still stands.  Industrial food is low quality junk that causes all kinds of health problems.  The pink slime itself may not hurt you directly, but the industry that surrounds it and the low quality quasi-meat that it represents is definitely not good, wholesome food.  It is an industrial product which insults the very idea of quality meat.

  • Crjolley

    Wrong or loaded comments: “Fatty beef trimmings from the slaughter house floor.” Sounds like somebody is sweeping the floor at the end of the day, doesn’t it?
    “Ground to a paste then the fat is separated out.” Now, after you create a paste, how are you going to separate the product?
    “Then the final product is sprayed with ammonia to kill pathogens like E.coli and antibiotic-resistant bacteria like Salmonella.” It’s not sprayed with household ammonia like Jamie Oliver mistakenly said. It’s ammonium hydroxide, something that;s found in the cells of most living things. And the statement about antibiotic resistant bacteria? The inference is that it has no effect on ‘non’ antibiotic resistant bacteria is wrong but maybe the writer was using a debate tactic often referred to as poisoning the well?
    And deleting a product that’s 99.99% safe might make our food supplies a little safer? That’s a comment that falls way outside the premise.

    • Balboa Sam

      So… you like pink slime?  The article may be full of hyperbole, but the stuff in question is definitely disgusting non-food.  Industrial meat producers bring this on themselves, so I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them.

      • Matt Tanner

        It’t not a questions of “liking pink slime” you need to think a little bigger picture than that Sam. It’s easy to be a ctritic but harder to find out the facts and educate yourself. I’ve seen a lot of negative press on this process and tried to find out more about it. The fact is that cattle in this county are processed in huge numbers every day and based on throughput processors can’t afford to obtain all the lean meat from the animal. Sounds to me like these folks found a safe and efficient way to gather the remaining lean meat. With all the people we have to feed in this world, the cost of raising cattle and the shortage of protein globally processes like this should be encouraged not deomized.

        • Teacher

          Send all the pink slime to third world nations if you’re so concerned about feeding the world. As for myself, I’d rather have an educated choice to make which can only come from full disclosure. They fired a whistleblower for daring to disagree with the company’s conclusions. That should tell you something.
          ‘processors can’t afford’? A bit presumptuous in your assessment of their bookkeeping? How much is profit? They have a choice and so do I. I’d rather pay more and have my beef unadulterated and unenhanced, thank you. But frankly, I’ll make my own burgers- they cost 1/2 as much and taste twice as good as any McFood.
          You do realize that you sound like an apologist for the process – the cost of vegetable protein is far less than beef protein and is just as healthy, so stop already. 

        • Abigbubba

          What have you been Smoking?

  • Dch921

    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/01/cleverly-manipulated-public-opinion-trumps-real-science-again/

    Here is an article that isn’t trying to just make headlines like this heavily bias on is

    • Ash

      lol . its written by a PR firm in food safety news. His job is to make headlines and sway public opinion. calling the food safety news unbiased is even more laughable.

  • Crjolley

    Ash, you sound like a person that wished he (or she) knew what he (or she) was talking about.  I ‘LOL’ at your misguided attempt to characterize FSN and its contributors.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the idea of “pink slime” is not appetizing, but honestly, there had to be a reason for it or the processors et al would not have pursued it in the first place  And I doubt it was only to save a penny or two a pound of beef – the commodity  market  for beef is going to have swings much more than that.  The fact is there are probably 1001 other food additives that are used daily in anything that comes frozen, in a can, or processed on the shelf – that you’d probably rather not know about but have been eating for decades, and are healthier and/or safer for it.    And FWIW – it’s not “sprayed with ammonia”  – it’s treated with Ammonium Hydroxide which is used in all kinds of industrial food applications as an anti-microbial, much like Hydrogen Peroxide, only it’s more stable and less toxic.  But just know that anything that is “ANTI-MICROBIAL” means that by definition it’s poisonous to living cells.  If it can kill a bacterium, if you ate enough of it it could also kill YOU.  But so can Ice Cream or practically anything else you stick in your pie-hole.  People die from drinking too much water and screwing up their electrolyte balance.   The trick is to use enough of the additive to kill the e-Coli and other harmful bacteria –  but not so much it hurts the meat – or the  human eating the meat.   So McDonald’s has stopped using it… what have they replaced it with?  If the alternative is ” untreated meat that is more apt to carry e-Coli and Salmonella” or “irradiated meat that is unproven”  or “genetically engineered meat that is also questionable” –   then  what have they improved?  Nothing.   

    Think about it folks – McDonalds sells millions and millions of tons of  hamburger.  In fact, they are the NUMBER ONE SINGLE BUYER of domestic beef.  NUMERO UNO.  They buy around $3 BILLION worth annually.  BILLION.   And yet you rarely, if ever, have heard of a case of toxic e-Coli or any other food-borne illness outbreak at the golden arches.  That’s pretty damned freaking amazing when you consider most of tha mega-tonnage of  meat is handled by inexperienced and unfocused pimply teenagers working their part-time minimum wage after-school jobs.  The Ammonium-Hydroxide treated beef must have been effective doing something.  

    No -my guess is that if McDee’s has dropped the pink slime, the REAL reason is that they found a cheaper, or “leaner” (no pun intended) way to do the same thing  – the PR benefit was just icing on the cake. 

    Get the facts people – don’t believe everything you read online or hear on “TMZ”.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZVJEEVATPQNZ4S5NDPXDKDGOU BeReal

    I learned about Pink Slime from the documentary Food, Inc. But their point was more about the reason for pink slime in the first place. Perhaps we should not be raising cattle and marketing foods in a way that makes Pink Slime seem like a good idea. Cattle should be raised on grass and alfalfa, not on corn and other animal by products  which, according to said documentary in part contributes to the presence of bad bacteria in their digestive systems. The benefits of Pink Slime are negligible because proper handling and cooking processes should be enough to prevent most food illness. But people need to decide what they want to eat, and companies should not be able to say 100% beef, if the meat contains silicon dioxide or chemically treated beef by products.

     

  • Rndiadem

    I have heard BOTH sides of the ‘pink slime’ attack towards an award winning, family owned business who produce the safest, healthiest lean beef for the population. They have laid off 600 Americans and plan to pay them for an additional 60 days while they try to repair the damage; KUDOS for them; SHAME on you. Retract your eronious statements and make sure folks know the TRUTH! Diane P. RN,BSN,MLC

    • Getgsd322

      I am also an R.N. and you can eat pink slime meat scraps if you want.As for me,I choose not to and that is the WHOLE POINT-WE WERE NOT GIVEN A CHOICE!

    • Starwhite1

      Pink slime has been proven unsafe pinhead! READ; Government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that
      in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella
      pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat,
      challenging claims by the company and the USDA about the effectiveness
      of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and Salmonella
      48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two
      27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught
      before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

  • beth s

    Why are they laying off workers?  Don’t they they produce wholesome non-treated meat. Might be a good idea to use texturizesd vegetyab;le protein as a filler.

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