USDA internal discussions of Pink Slime revealed: "We are taking a beating from the media"

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49 Responses to “USDA internal discussions of Pink Slime revealed: "We are taking a beating from the media"”

  1. horkheimer says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that pink slime is kind of a good idea (minus the ammonia part — although has it been proven that ammonia remains in the slime?) We want to use all of the animal right? This is efficient and leads to fewer dead animals.

    Not that I regularly eat anything that contains the slime, but if I do spend a buck on a hamburger, I’m not going to be too picky about what’s in it.

    • $8357570 says:

      Umm, no. Animals that are already being given ridiculous amounts of antibiotics also tend to be where diseases and viruses are most prominent. Not to mention that you don’t need to be eating ammonia, either. Or do you not recall the mad cow disease issues?

      If you spend a buck on a hamburger, what do you expect other than garbage? 

    • Bob Dole's Commie Doppelganger says:

      My understanding of the whole pink slime wasn’t that it was an issue of “ew, slime and ammonia”, which is what the media fixated on, but rather the fact that these trimmings are generally pretty high in pathogens, and if you actually use enough ammonia to kill the pathogens, the meat is more or less terrible-tasting.

      So what was happening in reality is they’d get the setup certified, customers would complain about the horrible-tasting “meat”, and then they’d dial back the ammonia to try to reach a compromise between flavor and danger, which seemed like a recipe for disaster.

      • horkheimer says:

        Thanks. This is helpful. I was having trouble with the “ew, slime and ammonia” tenor of of all of this, since plenty of the food we eat is highly processed (some of it for good reason), and the details rarely are palatable. The ammonia bacteria balance issue does seem particularly risky though.

      • soap says:

         Outside nervous tissue and the prion implication of it, what about trimmings makes them more susceptible to pathogen infection?

        • ryuthrowsstuff says:

          They tend to be pulled from areas of the animal with the highest exposure to gut contents (ie poop) making contamination more likely.  Add to that the inherent problems with mixed/ground meat products: The interior of a piece of meat is sterile, but its exterior can easily be contaminated. Grind it all up together and now everything can become contaminated. Now you have a product where contamination is quite likely, hence the ammonia. 

          • aluchko says:

             According to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slime#Controversy it’s mostly cartilage, connective tissue, and sinew, not gut related. I couldn’t find any pink slime specific health concerns.

          • soap says:

             Considering the carcasses are gutted and washed long before any meat is removed I’m not sure how exposure to gut contents is an issue.

            And, yes, ground meat products are inherently more dangerous as one is less likely to get any contaminant up to “kill” temps, but I’m not sure how that makes pink slime any more risky than other ground products.

    • USisLiberal says:

      I could be wrong, but the sinew, cartilage, and low-grade trimmings are what used to be processed for dog food. Mostly because dogs can better digest it, if humans can digest any of it at all.

      In essence, they figured out a way to use dog scraps to boost the overall amount of ground beef being sold for human consumption. That’s why your basic fast food burger is around the same price as a can of dog food.

      And if I were to guess, that reflects about the amount of respect the owners of the fast food restaurants and those that supply them have for their customers.

      Something to think about.

      • horkheimer says:

        Understood. But if you think any of these restaurants ever had “respect” for their customers (or at least their customers’ refined culinary sensibilities), I’ve got a bridge to sell.

        Nobody thinks this stuff is very nutritious, but if it fills you up and it costs a dollar, someone will buy it. Beyond regulating for danger, I’m not sure the USDA needs to get involved.

        (Also, sad fact: dog food is pretty edible)

        • Boundegar says:

          Dog food may be non-lethal, but I would still like to know under which administration it was decided that dog food is good food for Americans.

          • Phoc Yu says:

            Which incarnation of dog food?

            - It was approved in 1991 as “fat reduced beef” (Bush I), but not allowed in ground beef

            - It was again approved in 1993 as “lean finely textured beef” (Clinton) with no requirement that it be listed as a separate ingredient

            - 2001 was the approval of the use of ammonium hydroxide (Bush II)

        • joshhaglund says:

          What’s going on here, that we now expect food sellers to lace our food with garbage, previously unfit for human consumption, to make a buck? I’m pretty sure previous generations expected nutrients, and created the FDA to ensure this.

    • Sirkowski says:

      The only people who have a problem with this are conspiracy theorists and vegans.

    • Monkey33 says:

      No you are not the only one. Anyone who actually understands the science is fine with it. Just a bunch of self-important d-bags patting themselves on the back.

      Don’t worry about the ammonia that is still in the slime, there is more ppm of it on that slice of cheese or the bun on the same burger.

      edit: Yeah, self-important, as in you are really into yourselves and your thoughts on the matter, when all of the academics, the usda, they have the opposite story on this product but you just carry on making articles gloating about how you stuck it to them. Sounds pretty self-important to me… Sounds like you’re so into your own narrative you missed the facts of the story. Did you read all the pages of the BPI vs. ABC lawsuit? I did. You’d better hope they lose, otherwise you’ll look pretty bad seeing as they’re being sued for saying the same crap you’ve said about it.

      Enjoy patting yourself on the backs over your conspiracy theory. Since you’ve blocked me from new comments here your critics won’t be ruining your little party.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Just a bunch of self-important d-bags patting themselves on the back.

        Yup, anyone who has different priorities than you is a ‘self-important d-bag’.

        You might want to look up the meaning of ‘self-important’.

  2. ScytheNoire says:

    Redacted. Nothing to see here. Keep on moving.

  3. helmsb says:

    I’m more appalled at the use of Comic Sans than pink slime

  4. Anthony I says:

    “Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfucker.”

  5. Jonathan says:

    I think it’s a good idea too. Might as well make use of that part of the animal, rather than waste it. If you think it’s yucky, don’t ever try making a pate recipe.

    If you don’t like ammonia, don’t eat cheese. Or the numerous other foods that contain it.

    • P E Norris says:

      Agreed.   Don’t read a cookbook printed before 1920 if the thought of meat trimmings and sinew disgust you.

      I’m all for truth in advertising, but let’s put this in perspective. 

  6. When I grow up, I’m going to Bovine University.  

  7. Rick Adams says:

    The ammonia “issue” is used for shock factor. Although there is a certain amount of ammonia in the end product, it’s negligible. Like the cyanide in apple-seeds, you’ve eaten it, get over it. Ammonia is actually a pretty natural material if you think about it.

    Anyway, the real problems behind the issue are still there. For one, like mentioned above, once the meat is processed that much, it tastes terrible. The chicken you would get in chicken nuggets is actually flavored to taste like chicken. You’re not actually tasting the “chicken” at all when you eat it, but the flavor they insert after processing.

    But the real problem, also mentioned above, is the amount of animals that go into a batch. If you took one or two cows/chickens, and processed them down in the same way, the result would probably be pretty delicious, and safe. A batch made in an industrial factory however, could contain thousands of cows from all over the world who’d been dead for god knows how long.

    What am I saying? Don’t take my word for it, read this:

    http://grist.org/sustainable-farming/green-goo-sustainable-meat-producers-aim-to-market-their-own-pink-slime/

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      The ‘ammonia issue’ is real, it’s just not the one that gets talked about as the ‘ammonia issue’.

      In order to neutralize pathogens successfully in the trimmings, you have to dial up the pH significantly(and, if you do that, it does work, which is the reason that the process was approved). However, if you do ammoniate it that hard, even hardened institutional customers start calling and asking if the product is supposed to smell like that when it starts to thaw.

      So, you cut back on the ammonia, and now you are shipping a product that is palatable; but is substantially less disinfected than it is supposed to be.

      That’s the real issue with the ammonia in this context: because of the high pathogen risk with these trimmings(which is not improved by the fact that they usually end up in ground beef), the ‘safe, also doesn’t smell like high concentrations of ammonia’ window is quite narrow. In practice, this caused the manufacturer to oscillate back and forth, playing the “Oh, totally ammoniated and safe, no need to inspect” whenever pathogen concerns arose; but frequently shipping product that was only ammoniated to unproven or known-risky levels for reasons of palatability.

  8. Sirkowski says:

    Pink Slime? Pinko? Communism?
    Coincidence? I think not! Someone call Alex Jones!

  9. Jason Lane says:

    So why has this additive been disguised and labeled as something else? “Lean”. No it’s utter crap. You wonder why the western world is suffering an obesity epidemic?

    As for “Using” all the animal! So why is it less and less people turn their noses up at things like; liver, kidneys in other words offal? But are quite happy to stuff their faces with industrialised processed crap?

    Lastly please don’t give the likes of McDonalds, Taco Bell etc, the pleasure of calling them “Restaurants”. Please go to real one’s.

  10. Jason Lane says:

    yup that maybe but mechanically products of this type may be ~12% fat by weight, blah, blah, blah. Just because it’s fat content is below a certain amount does not mean the contents of said product are necessarily appetising, or particularly good for you?

    • soap says:

      Just because it’s fat content is below a certain amount does not mean
      the contents of said product are necessarily appetising, or particularly good for you?

      You asked why it was labeled “lean”.  I answered why it was labeled “lean”.  Nothing more, nothing less.

      • Jason Lane says:

        And I’m trying to make a point. Part of that point is to get people thinking about what they put in their mouths.

        This not necessarily aimed at you :)

  11. Blaine Higgy says:

    I don’t have any problem with the food industry using “pink slime” per se. However, if it is included in a product it should be required to be mentioned in the ingredients label.

    • ChickieD says:

      I think it’s good there has been a discussion of this product, just so people are aware of what they are eating and can make a decision on whether they think it’s a healthy thing to eat regularly. 

      I don’t usually eat anything that processed, though I do eat the occasional hot dog, which I assume uses a very similar type of product. I’m also guessing some of the turkey sausage has a bit of this as a filler.I generally avoid fast food places. Even though I am one for a guilty pleasure, I never liked the consistency of the overly processed chicken and beef and I’d rather have a nice burger at a normal restaurant than a spongy fast food burger.
      I think that using the end bits of meat and finding a way to keep them safe is okay, but I also think people should be aware of what they eating. All things in moderation. I didn’t particularly find it odd that the FDA was not on top of its response to the issue, which was more of a press concoction than an issue generated by the organization itself. The emails seem like normal stuff to me. In my industry we have had similar things happen where a competitor will make a big deal over some minute technical feature that has little impact on real performance but which they are using as a scare tactic to get people who are not on top of all the technical nuances afraid that our product is not as good as theirs.

  12. $8357570 says:

    he’s playing into the “Ammonia is bad”, is talking about pink slime, then talking about eating at basically mcdonalds/burger king and you’re going to focus on that?

    I don’t suppose it’s hard to read Bob Dole’s comment, which is exactly what I’m talking about, is it?

    t t t troll.

  13. soap says:

    Forgive me for actually wanting an intelligent discourse on horkhelmer’s question. For my gut says the same thing – outside the amonia bit this simply seems like another way of maximizing the animal’s utility.

  14. $8357570 says:

    I expect intelligent discourse and could certainly provide a more detailed comment with further explanation, if the question were not phrased in the form of a pedantic insult.

  15.  At that, it’s ammonia gas, not floor cleaner that’s placed in this stuff.  If there’s any left after processing (which I’ve never seen anybody claim) then they’re using too much and would be increasing their expenses while decreasing saleability of their product.

    By all means eat local free-range meats if that’s in your budget, but in the meantime killing the e.coli is better than not killing the e.coli – real people die horribly from it.

    “Pink slime” reminds me of “kooties”.

  16. The nice thing about ammonia is the smell.  Seriously.  If you can’t smell it, it’s not there in any quantity you should care about.  The slightly weird smell of some Swiss-type cheeses?  That’s ammonia in part, and you’re smelling it in tiny, harmless concentrations. No smell, no ammonia.  That and its volatility makes it one of the better cleaning agents to use around food.

    Now, I like my hamburger medium rare, so that means only home-ground for me, but that’s a different issue.

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