April 2, 2012

Where’s the beef?

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Shame on the Governors of three states (Rick Perry of Texas, Terry Branstad of Iowa and Sam Brownback of Kansas) along with two Lieutenant Governors (Rick Sheehy of Nebraska and Matt Michels of South Dakota) – all of whom not only took a recent tour of one of pink slime’s main production plants, but also did their best to convince consumers and grocery store chains that the substance is not only safe but should continue to be consumed.

All together now: “Ewwwww!”

I understand that these political officials wanted to show their support for the thousands of jobs that the manufacturing of pink slime requires. And don’t get me wrong – I’m all for commerce and gainful employment. But this act of not only defending pink slime (or “Finely textured beef,” according to its manufacturer) but also encouraging it be eaten in beef products can be likened to someone in authority encouraging us to smoke cigarettes because tobacco companies employ thousands of people as well.

This is especially deplorable when considering that one of the consumer groups that these pink slime manufacturers most want to hold onto is school districts that utilize pink slime in meals they’re serving to children. (It should be noted that not using pink slime in beef would raise beef prices for schools by 16% – but what about the price that using it could cost our and our children’s health?)

When recently discussing pink slime, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad noted, “It’s beef, but it’s a leaner beef, which is better for you.”

A leaner beef, Governor? Pink slime (AKA “Finely textured beef”) is made from fatty bits of meat that are gathered from leaner cuts, which are then treated with ammonium hydroxide to slightly change the acidity and kill the bacteria according to an Associated Press article appearing on The Huffington Post. This same article also reports that the ammonium hydroxide BPI is also used in baked goods, puddings and other processed foods.

A recent article by Colleen Vanderlinden of Planet Green reports that the latest issue of Mary Janes Farm sheds even more light on the issue of pink slime: “Ten years ago, the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called ‘trimmings’ that were sold primarily as pet food. No more. Now, Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota transforms trimmings into something they call ‘boneless lean beef.’ In huge factories, the company liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as ‘pink slime,’ which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger.”

If that’s not enough to turn your stomach, I don’t know what is. And yet these politicians aren’t only defending, but encouraging pink slime’s use.

Again, its use up to now does not warrant its use going forward. It’s time for food manufacturers to take responsibility and undo some of the potentially heinous decisions they’ve made in the past. We have never been unhealthier (or heavier) as a nation – and one might certainly argue it’s partly due to the unhealthy and unnatural additives to food that our bodies cannot necessarily utilize or even metabolize.

It’s time for us (and our political leaders) to stop putting a bandage on the issue (and its resulting job losses) and start addressing ways that we, as a nation, can start consuming real foods with real ingredients – in ways that support the economy and the jobs market. As for pink slime manufacturers, no matter how many jobs might be saved, its continued use does not seem worth the ultimate price these kinds of questionable ingredients could have on our health (and the cost of maintaining our health) in the future.

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4 Responses to “Where’s the beef?”

  1. Teresa Fischer says:

    This is really gross and disgusting. I think we all need to read labels and reject anything that lists something that we either don’t know what it is or cannot pronounce. I am neither a scientist nor a gourmet cook but I really don’t believe that ammonium hydroxide BPI belongs in any food group. I also don’t believe that we should use school meals and some sort of testing ground or free market for scraps that were once used for pet food. But then again, it’s only poor kids and most of them get the meals for free so why should we care? Because we have to care – that’s what makes us decent human beings. I wish someone remind these “leaders” that there is a huge line between right and wrong. HUGE! And “leaders” you’ve crossed that line in the wrong direction. Stepping off my high horse, now.

  2. SusanK says:

    Ewwwww! Ewwwww! Ewwwww! I’m with you Gregg!

  3. Gregg says:

    You can step onto your high horse anytime, Teresa. I (and I’m sure others) appreciate your commentary very much!

  4. Gregg says:

    Thanks for the chorus of “Ewwwws,” Susan. It helps! 😉

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