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The Quiet Return of Pink Slime

Updated on September 11, 2013
As much as 15% of pink slime is allowed by the USDA in your ground beef - and they are not required to tell you on the label.
As much as 15% of pink slime is allowed by the USDA in your ground beef - and they are not required to tell you on the label. | Source

Ground Beef with a heapin' helpin' of Ammonium Hydroxide

According to several reports in the mainstream media, that infamous ammonia-treated mash-up of meat trimmings, better known as "pink slime," has made a comeback. Bill Tomson and Helena Bottemiller Evich of Politico have uncovered government information which indicates the pink slime has been "allowed" to be served to school kids in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Schools in Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska never did not stop serving the controversial pink slime to students even after numerous complaints from people all over the U.S. caused a national outcry in early 2012.

The infamous pink slime was brought to the attention of the public by Jamie Oliver in a national primetime television news show and a series of reports produced by ABC World News. Since then, McDonald's has stopped using the pink slime in their products. You can see the infamous pink slime on this YouTube.


Pink Slime in the News


Pink Slime: What is it Exactly?

Known in the meat processing industry as "lean, finely textured beef," pink slime is essentially made up from the remaining scraps of cattle carcasses; rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia and occasional bits of meat. The industry once called these "trimmings" a low-value waste product to be used in pet foods.


These same beef scraps were once considered to contain too much fat for human consumption. Once collected, these scraps are heated in a centrifuge to separate and extract the various "useable" parts. These useable parts create a pink slime substance that is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill any bacteria. The resulting pink slime, or lean finely textured beef is then frozen and sold to meat processors as an additive to be mixed in with regular ground beef.

The USDA allows up to 15% of pink slime to be mixed into regular ground beef before any labeling is required. What that means is as much as 15% of the processed "100% ground beef" you buy at the store, are served in restaurants or prepared for as many as 31 million school kids each school day.


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Officials at Beef Products, Inc. where 7 million pounds lean finely textured beef is produced each week, assures consumers that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has affirmed that the product is safe, wholesome, nutritious and 100% lean beef. Folks in the beef processing industry consider pink slime to be an "impressive innovation."



Why Are Schools Using Pink Slime?

The simple answer is money. Currently there are about 31 million kids attending schools all across the U.S. and with schools feeling the financial pinch like everyone else, cutting costs is essential for keeping the doors open.

Although the pink slime only cuts about 3% off the cost of real ground beef, that's 3% off the cost to feed 31 million students every school day. Apparently, some school systems have decided that a 3% savings is worth feeding pink slime to school children.


The Known Health Threat of Ammonium Hydroxide

This chemical is most commonly found in window cleaning solutions, wood polish and floor cleaners. According to the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) required by the U.S. government to appear on labels of products containing ammonium hydroxide, this substance is considered very hazardous, especially when coming in contact with human skin.

It may also cause damage to mucous membranes which makes up the entire human digestive system. Dr. Daniel Zagst states that prolonged or repeated exposure to this substance can cause it to accumulate in the body's organs, causing damage to sensitive blood vessels.


The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regards the presence of ammonium hydroxide in our food to be safe. They state that "although there have been no significant feeding studies specifically designed to ascertain the safety threshold of ammonium compounds ad food ingredients."

Their experts claim this substance to be safe for human consumption even though no specific testing has been conducted on the adding ammonium hydroxide to food. You can see the findings for yourself at the FDA website.

So, bottom line: Yes, ammonium hydroxide will kill dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, but it can also destroy the very bacteria in the human digestive system that keeps people healthy. The question should really be about what is acceptable in our food and what is not. You must decide what is best for you and your family.


© 2013 MKayo


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    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for a great comment!

    • EZ Swim Fitness profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      4 years ago from Southern Wisconsin

      I just don't understand why we cannot achieve transparency in what is IN the food we eat. The FDA really needs to step up and help the American consumer know what they are eating.

      It hurts me to read this but oh, what a great service you have done.

      Thank you!

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Indeed donnah75, the future does seem bleak unless regular, everyday people do something. If they're producing 7 million pounds of this per day, there must be a demand for it. People need to be aware and take steps to reduce this demand. That is the only way to stop those who respond only if it affects their bottom line. Thanks for the great comment. M

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Chemical laden meat is one of the reasons I eat a plant strong diet. They don't need a study. They need to observe our unhealthy society and realize that chemicals in our food play a significant role. If the good bacteria is killed, then our body can't digest properly. The body then can't eliminate the toxins, which build up and make us sick. We feed this to our children. What will their futures be like?

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      MT - Nope, PS is back. Theophanes - what is wrong with this society indeed! Best of luck on your noble efforts to make wholesome food available to your family. For most of us, taking the time to research these food items is a good start. Sadly, the FDA allows up to 15% of pink slime to be in your "100% ground beef" without ANY mention of this on the label.

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes Avery 

      5 years ago from New England

      Revolting - how sad is it we can't even buy food these days without something not technically edible in it. And then to feed this... stuff... to our children?? What's wrong with this society? I have gotten so sick of it I'm actually raising my own chickens for eggs and meat now, planning on a garden, and in the meanwhile only buy foods I know what they are... SIGH.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Eww! I thought this was over, but apparently not.

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Dzy - wow, thanks for the passionate comment, vote up and for sharing - I appreciate it!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Disgusting! I'm glad I went vegetarian years ago. This makes all the more reason to do so. Go veggie and take away their business! That kind of hit to the bank account is the only kind of language these greedy corporate heads understand.

      Voted up, interesting and useful--also shared here and on Face Book.

    • jseven profile image


      5 years ago from Michigan

      It's too bad that money trumps children's health! Shame on these food producers. I try to stick with free-range meat when I can get it. Thankfully, my son-n-law is a hunter and blesses me with it when he can.

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Bill, my thinking exactly. Thanks for the read and comment.

    • Bill Yovino profile image

      Bill Yovino 

      5 years ago

      Excellent information here. I guess the best thing to do is buy a meat grinder and grind your own beef.


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