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Pink Slime Not Just A Beef Thing

Updated on April 3, 2012

Pink Slime

One day I was reading an article put out by Beyond Organic and since I'm not one to rush and see the nightly news specials, this was the first of all the controversy I had seen surrounding it. The first thing that I thought about was the fact that nearly one year earlier I had seen it on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. My first response to reading the article was "this isn't anything new". After seeing all the public outcry, I was happy, knowing it had become mainstream.

Pink slime or lean finely textured beef as the producers like to call it, made it so I never looked at burgers the same way again, especially since I had already lost desire for most burger places anyhow, before having any knowledge of the ammonia-treated meat.

The sad thing for me was the fact that though I knew about pink slime before the public outcry, I didn't think much about it beforehand, outside of telling a few friends and family about ammonia being used to kill off bacteria. I already didn't eat burgers many places, so I just had more reason not to.

I'm sure what I said to many people went in one ear and out the other before now as is the case when I talk about many of the toxins in our diets. I joked with my mom, saying that I'd have to tell Dr. Oz everything I talk about and get him to say it on his show in order for her to listen to it.

What's Pink Slime?

To clarify of what pink slime is, for those who've probably just now started to hear about it. It is made from leftover beef scraps that were formally just tossed out and was at best, only used to make dog food. The leftover scraps are spun in a centrifuge to separate the meat from fat, cartilage, etc. The end product is at least 95% fat-free, so it's been most commonly used as a filler for lean ground beef.

Pink slime or finely textured beef has been linked to many salmonella outbreaks in the past, so to kill the bacteria, ammonia is used to treat it, which may be the biggest contributor to the outcry of consumer betrayal. Since the ammonia solution used to treat finely textured beef is a process, it doesn't have to be put on the labels, so it was hidden under the radar until recently.

Who's To Blame?

With all the out-cry and grocery stores refusing to sell pink slime, it's led the producers of the food additives to point the finger at scientists and social media for so-called public misinformation. The biggest backlash is coming from Beef Products Inc., who say this misinformation will drive up costs and cut jobs.

When it comes to misinformation, that's what can be blamed for pink slime being used in the first place. Manufacturers say they use the filler to make lean beef, because it's 98% fat-free. In response to the uncovered truth about ground beef, BPI and some state governors have partnered in what seems to be a public relations campaign to tell people it's safe and healthy.

The sad part is the fact that we the public, get duped into these kind of things by the same ones telling us our full-fat natural yogurt was bad for us and that we should opt for the artificially flavored fat-free stuff. The ones to blame are those responsible for protecting consumers. If BPI wants to sell people ammonia-treated dog food, that's one problem. When it's determined that the public has no right to know, that's a major problem.

The big corporations like to blame the consumers for such a high demand that they have to use non-food additives. We as consumers play a role here as well and that is to stop assuming that our best interests are in mind, when we are just walking dollar signs. Many people probably feel that this is just public overreaction, so I say make the pink slime for them to eat, just put a dog on the package it's sold in, so they know who it's really for.

Other Pink Slime

This whole pink slime thing has led to many people being disgusted, but at the same time, we fail to realize that pink slime isn't all about finely textured beef, because it's also fair to call that strawberry ice cream looking product used to make many chicken nuggets, pink slime. Hot dogs and other products made with mechanically separated meat should also be called into question.

The food industry is all about profit and pink slime along with the process it's made and sterilized with ammonia, were never supposed to be public knowledge, just like we're not supposed to know how all the other chemically treated foods are processed. It creates what the industry calls "an unwarranted food scare". I used to eat hot dogs because they were cheap and I never thought much of the fact that I was eating something that had leftover chicken, beef, and pork all in the same thing, until I woke up to reality.

We can't complain about pink slime if we're feeding our kids chicken nuggets made from meat-like paste. Don't wait for the media to tell you something's bad for you, because that's usually followed by some attempt to restore your confidence in a product you shouldn't have eaten in the first place.


In response to all the heat, Beef Productions Inc. has called upon politicians for support and as a public relations strategy, they've come up with a shirt which reads "dude, it's beef". The company held a plant tour for Kansas, Texas, and Iowa state governors as well as a few journalist to bolster its image. One has to wonder why public tours weren't allowed. Instead, they held tours for people who were on there side from the beginning in an effort to convince the general public "hey, sorry we deceived you all these years, but our product is healthy"

Some beef suppliers have complained that the negative image associated with pink slime have hurt overall demand for beef. Gerald Zirnstein, who's a former USDA scientist, was against the products approval and sent an e-mail to coworkers. He stated that the product looked like pink slime and the e-mail later became public information. Many in the industry have called Zirnstein a whistle blower.

Many argue that it's a very safe, nutritious product and that it's even healthier because of it being up to 100% fat-free.

Iowa Governor's Letter

In response to the heat, Iowa governor Terry Branstad, wrote a letter to all the superintendents in Iowa, claiming that not using the product would contribute to obesity, lost jobs, etc.

Dear Superintendent,

The United States Department of Agriculture recently gave you a choice in the beef you serve your students.

I am asking you to continue choosing the safe and healthy lean, finely textured beef.

As you know, this safe and healthy product has come under fire in recent weeks, as critics dubbed the product with derogatory smears designed to drive people away from consuming this product.

The safety of this food is unmatched. In more than 20 years, there has not been one sickness or death associated with E. Coli or other bacteria. If lean, finely textured beef is pulled from schools in Iowa, the risks will be greater in using products deemed less safe.

Perhaps even more important is the battle we are waging against childhood obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama recently joined me at a rally where 10,000 students learned the value of exercise, eating well and taking good care of their bodies. By removing this lean product, schools will be forced to serve a fattier, unhealthier product. My goal is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation over the next 5 years. We will not get there if we take a step backwards by removing lean, finely textured beef.

There will always be naysayers who attempt to bully you away from particular products. Make no mistake – if I, or the USDA, believed for a moment that the facts, science and health safety were against lean, finely textured beef, we would not be advocating for it so strongly. We are asking you to set an example and not cater to the bullying that is occurring over this product.

If this product ceases to exist in schools, grocery stores and restaurants, it is estimated that 3,000 jobs could be eliminated. This product is proudly raised, fed, processed, packaged, transported and sold by parents of your school’s students. By supporting this great Iowa product and serving it in your schools, you will send a strong signal on behalf of those who rely on it for their living.

It’s safe. It’s healthy. It’s the right thing to do. Thank you for your serious consideration in continuing to serve lean, finely textured beef in your schools.


Gov. Terry E. Branstad Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds

Hamburger E-Coli July 2001

Dear Terry Branstad

I think a letter to Iowa's governor is in order as a response to his support of pink slime.

Dear Branstad,

It must be nice to return the favor to Beef Products Inc. after they gave $152,000 to your campain a couple of years ago. All that aside, the ammonia-treated product was approved about 10 years ago, so where do you get this no E.Coli in more than 20 years crap from?

All the ammonia has managed to do is reduce the incidences of outbreaks. Many people have died from e-coli directly related to beef scraps in the past 20 years. Instead of concluding that the product wasn't safe for human consumption, some nutritionally ignorant scientists decided to treat it with ammonia so that instead of short-term problems, we'd just deal with more cancer in the long-run.

The critics that you say have put finely textured beef under attack are the same ones that don't like being deceived in an effort to make profit. We have a right to know what goes into our food and ammonia has no business being used in any food used for human consumption.

Who cares if you partnered with Michelle Obama to fight obesity, that's been proven to be a lost cause in-which tons of money is wasted telling people to eat fat-free crap and as a result obesity and disease continue to rise.

You play the sensitivity card of how 3000 jobs will be lost and many of the workers have children in Iowa schools, but you could care less about people losing there jobs, you get funded by BPI and schools not buying the pink slime would mean less money in your pocket.

You say your goal is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation over the next five years and yet, you seem to know nothing about health. Here's where we can come to some sort of compromise. You pledge to eat nothing but lean finely textured beef for a year. Don't add it to other foods, but eat it by itself with the only addition being seasoning of choice, so that you prove how healthy and nutritious this product is.

By doing so, you will be helping to restore public interest in the product and keep those 3000 people from losing their jobs. We're counting on you governor to prove the safety of this product.


(If you agree with what's written in this letter please send it either in its entirety or an edited version to Iowa governor Terry Branstad at

Food Industry

I consider this entire thing a small victory in the war on a multi-billion dollar food industry, who's concern is profit and hides that concern by deceiving the public and making false health claims. Former food giant Montco; a producer of pink slime, has filed bankruptcy. What we can do is start eating food the way it's intended to be eaten. Even though truly healthy food may cost more, in the long run, you can't put a price on your and your family's health.

Opt for free range grass-fed beef instead of corn-fed antibiotic-treated ground beef. We need to support local farms and/or grow our own food. As for those who support the industry saying "we've been eating it all this time, why complain now", please consider the fact that the diseases that plague our society are gradual and don't happen overnight.

Understand that pink slime, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, hydrogenated oils, etc. are just small pieces of a major food problem. As far as beef goes, don't believe nonsense. The best beef comes from grass-fed cows and even those cows have the scraps tossed out or thrown to the dogs.

If my letter above meant anything to you, please send it to Terry Branstad and have others do the same, to see if he'd be willing to eat his words.

Does it bother you that pink slime was hidden from the public

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    • Irob profile image


      6 years ago from St. Charles

      You know I am with you

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 

      6 years ago from London

      It's crazy what people do with our food. It makes me want to live only on anything I have grown. A very eye opening article.

    • fit2day profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I also left out the sodium nitrate added to most processed meats, the more I learn about the food industry and the revolving door, the less I want to shop at the grocery store for anything.

      Thanks for commenting

    • rjsadowski profile image


      6 years ago

      The problem is that our politicians in office have continually pressured the FDA to deregulate our food just like they deregulated Savings and Loans and banks and insurance companies (they all failed). Then they have reduced their funding so that the foxes are now guarding the hen house. You forgot to nention that most smoked bacon and ham can now contain up to 20 % water.


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