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Pink Slime: How the Current Controversy Began

Pink Slime

The issue of pink slime has been swirling around news reports for the last month. For those unfamiliar with the term, pink slime also known as lean finely textured beef (LBFT) or boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT) is an inexpensive filler used in ground beef throughout the United States.

Over the last month there has been a tremendous public outcry for it to be removed from school lunch programs and grocery chains.

In the past the product, which is derived from ground beef scraps and connective tissue has only been sold in pet food and cooking oil. Much of the reason for this pertains to the fact that the trimmings were highly susceptible to contamination, particularly E.coli.

Then just over decade ago a small company called Beef Products Inc. discovered they could rid all traces of E.coli and salmonella by treating it with ammonia: a process that was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2007.

Currently pink slime is manufactured in the following way. First the waste trimmings are gathered and simmered at a low heat: a process that helps separate the fat from muscle. It is then placed through a centrafuse where it is spun to help finish the separation process. Next it is sprayed with Ammonia Gas to kill any bacteria that may have been present. Finally it is compressed into bricks, flash frozen then shipped to meat packers and grocery stores where it is added to ground beef.

Despite the issue of pink slime being around for many years, much of the recent media attention is due in part to Jamie Oliver’s television show, Food Revolution. It was during a taping last season that Oliver demonstrated to his audience his version of the current manufacturing process. It was that demonstration that was the catalyst for much of the current media controversy over pink slime.

For anyone interested how this all begun you can check out the video below.


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