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Organic Consumers Association

Ammonia-Treated Pink Slime Now in Most U.S. Ground Beef

You're not going to believe what you've been eating the last few years (thanks, Bush! thanks meat industry lobbyists!) when you eat a McDonald's burger (or the hamburger patties in kids' school lunches) or buy conventional ground meat at your supermarket:

According to today's New York Times, The "majority of hamburger" now sold in the U.S. now contains fatty slaughterhouse trimmings "the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil," "typically including most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass" that contains "larger microbiological populations."

This "nasty pink slime," as one FDA microbiologist called it, is now wrung in a centrifuge to remove the fat, and then treated with AMMONIA to "retard spoilage," and turned into "a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips".

Thus saving THREE CENTS a pound off production costs. And making the company, Beef Products Inc., a fortune. $440 million/year in revenue. Ain't that something?

And to emphasize: this pink slime isn't just in fast food burgers or free lunches for poor kids:

 With the U.S.D.A.'s stamp of approval, the company's processed beef has become a mainstay in America's hamburgers. McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

Bush's U.S.D.A. also allowed these "innovators" to get away with listing the ammonia as "a processing agent" instead of by name. And they also OKd the processing method -- and later exempted the hamburger from routine testing of meat sold to the general public -- strictly based on the company's claims of safety, which were not backed by any independent testing.

Because the ammonia taste was so bad ("It was frozen, but you could still smell ammonia," said Dr. Charles Tant, a Georgia agriculture department official. "I've never seen anything like it.") the company started using a less alkaline ammonia treatment, and now we know -- thanks to testing done for the school lunch program -- that the nasty stuff isn't even reliably killing the pathogens.


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