Pink Slime, also known as “Soylent Pink,” has been in the news recently. Pink Slime is made from slaughterhouse scraps and inedible parts of the steer, which are so heavily contaminated with bacteria that the government requires that it be treated with ammonia, before being processed into a pink glop that is added to meat products, usually hamburger. The sole purpose for doing this appears to be to increase the weight of the hamburger, with this dirt cheap additive, to increase profits.
I cannot think of a single reason why anyone would want Pink Slime in their hamburgers. Even McDonalds and Burger King stopped using it. Yet the Department of Agriculture bought seven million pounds of Pink Slime for the school lunch program. And it is estimated that seventy percent of the hamburger sold in the United States contains Pink Slime.
Nobody wants to eat it, but it is not that easy to avoid. You will not find it on the label, because the government does not require that Pink Slime be labeled. But I have found a good way to avoid it—buy only grassfed hamburger, from a trusted source, preferably a small rancher.
Why I Avoid Pink Slime
Pink Slime is made from slaughterhouse scraps, parts of the steer that are exposed to fecal matter during processing, and inedible parts of the animal such as tendons. These animal parts can be made edible only through heavy processing.
These animal parts are so heavily contaminated with bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, that the government requires that they be processed with ammonia, a caustic chemical. The U.S. government claims the processing makes it safe. But the U.S. government strictly limits the percentage of Pink Slime that can be added to meat products. If Pink Slime is totally safe, why limit the amount that can be added? And I do not want to ingest ammonia, which is a caustic poison, even in the amounts the government considers safe. Pink Slime is banned for human consumption in Great Britain.
Finally, even if the U.S. government is right, and Pink Slime is totally safe—why would anyone want to eat it? At best, it is nothing but a cheap filler material that increases the weight of the hamburger so the seller can make more profit. Do you want to eat a filler material? I do not. I don’t know anybody who does.
Pink Slime Is Not Labeled
The U.S. government refuses to require that Pink Slime be disclosed on food labels. They claim it is meat, and no further labeling is necessary. Of course, if Pink Slime was on food labels, in a way that customers understood, nobody would buy the product, and profits would suffer.
I think our basic human freedom to choose what we eat is denied when industry is not required to disclose the presence of ingredients that nobody would want to eat, but the government does not see it that way. So, if Pink Slime is not labeled, how do you avoid it?
How I Avoid Pink Slime
My method is simple. I buy grassfed hamburger only. Not only is it much tastier and healthier, it almost certainly does not contain Pink Slime. I found this out when I polled every rancher whose meat I eat.
I am happy to report that US Wellness Meats, Homestead Natural Foods, Alderspring Ranch, Gaucho Ranch, and Humboldt Grassfed Beef do not use Pink Slime, and never have. My rancher friends explained to me that the economics of using this kind of filler material have little or no benefit for a small operation. Even more importantly, none of these fine producers would want to ruin the quality of their terrific grassfed hamburger by adding processed glop to it.
While I will be sure to ask if I buy grassfed meat from another ranch, I am confident that I will not find Pink Slime in grassfed hamburger. And that is yet another reason to eat grassfed meat. After all, we are what we eat, and who wants to have any part of their body made from Pink Slime?
I want to recommend the Facebook page started by my friend Kimberly Hartke of the Weston A. Price Foundation—No Pink Slime in My Burger—as a great source of information about the Pink Slime issue, with many excellent links to informative articles.
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