(Health Secrets Newsletter) Would you knowingly eat ground beef which contained scrap meat items such as muscle connective tissue which had been sprayed with ammonium hydroxide? Would you want your children to eat such ground beef in school lunches? According to recent revelations, if you or your children eatground beef there is a strong chance that both may be happening.
Former United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist-turned-whistleblower Gerald Zirnstein has revealed that 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets contains the fake meat additive which is commonly referred to as pink slime. This revelation came on the heels of reports that the USDA is purchasing 7 million pounds of the product forschool lunches in public schools.
Pink slime is made by gathering beef waste trimmings, simmering them at low heat to make it easy to separate fat from the muscle, and using a centrifuge to spin the waste trimmings to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria. Finally, the product is packaged into bricks, frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef.
Beef trimmings are particularly susceptible to contamination and were once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. However, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), the makers of pink slime, commissioned a study which reportedly demonstrated that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella. Ever since the study, use of pink slime in ground beef has increased.
In 2009, the New York Timesreported that despite the added ammonia, tests of pink slime across the country revealed dozens of instances of E. coli and salmonella. E. coli was found in pink slime three times and salmonella 48 times between 2005 and 2009, including two contaminated batches of meat totaling 27,000 pounds.
Zirnstein, who first coined the term pink slime in a USDA memo, told ABC news “It’s economic fraud. It’s not fresh ground beef. …It’s a cheap substitute being added in.”
Zirnstein and fellow USDA scientist Carl Custer both warned against using what the industry calls “lean finely textured beef,” but they were overruled by their government bosses. Pink slime does not have to appear on adulterated ground beef labels because, over objections of its own scientists, USDA officials with links to the beef industry have labeled the concoction as meat.
The woman who made the decision to approve the mix is former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. Her decision led to hundred of millions of dollars for BPI.
“The under secretary said, ‘it’s pink, therefore it’s meat,'” Custer told ABC News.
When Smith left the USDA in 1993, she was appointed to the board of directors for BPI’s principal major supplier where she reportedly made at least $1.2 million over the next 17 years. The USDA said that, while Smith’s appointment was legal at the time, she could not have immediately joined the board under current ethics rules.
News of the USDA’s plan to bring 7 million pounds of pink slime to school cafeterias nationwide came just weeks after the government announced new guidelines to ensure students are given healthier options for school meals. Notably, the USDA purchase came after fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King have discontinued use of pink slime.
A public outcry against the pink slime is perhaps led most prominently by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has also waged war successfully against flavored milk in Los Angeles schools.
Sources for this article include: