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July 26, 2012 / Narine Khngikyan

Consumer Outraged Regarding the Use of Pink Slime in Beef Products

Consumers cannot help but wonder what is really in the pre-packaged foods we eat? Recently, the American public learned about a not-so-appetizing “ingredient” used in ground beef products called “pink slime.”  Because ground-beef manufacturers convinced the FDA that pink slime was a “process” and not an “ingredient,” it is rarely identified on labels or packaging for ground beef products. Pink slime  has been used in beef since 2002, but it was not until recently when the product caused some controversy.

Pink slime is a blended mixture of mechanically-separated meat that is left after all the choice cuts have been removed. It is then treated with ammonia   to rid the mixture of any food-borne pathogens like E. Coli. Consumer activists everywhere were outraged to learn that a substantial portion of the ground beef products that are routinely consumed include pink slime. What is more unsettling is how frequently pink slime is used in school lunches that young children eat everyday. With such backlash from consumers,   fast food giants like McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Burger King have stopped using the mixture and one of the companies that makes the slime, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI), recently suspended operations at 3 of their 4 plants.

Facing a health lawsuit, Regina Roth, the co-founder of BPI, has launched a rigorous campaign to protect BPI’s products and better inform consumers about pink slime, based on her belief that the media has  “misinformed consumers.” Since pink slime is abundantly used in school cafeteria meals, individuals across the nation, like Chellie Pingree, a democrat from Maine, have demanded to ban the product from school lunches. Roth along with members of the beef industry, claims that product is “wholesome and nutritious.” Roth also asserts that BPI’s product is “100% beef.” Two former scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculturewho reviewed the product think otherwise. “It’s not fresh ground beef. It’s a cheap substitute being added in,” microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein said.


Consumers who purchase ground beef from their local grocery stores are led to believe that they are purchasing 100% beef since the company labels the meat as just that, 100% beef.Although the process of producing and selling pink slime has been approved by the USDA and cautionary steps are implemented to rid the meat of E.Coli and Salmonella, some activists still believe the meat is still not safe enough for consumption.

 

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