Pink Slime a Symptom of a Darker Disease

Mark Bittman reminds us that there's far worse stuff in our meat

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 4, 2012 11:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – Public outcry appears to have essentially killed "pink slime" (or as its producers would prefer you refer to it, "Lean Finely Textured Beef"), and Mark Bittman can't help but find that encouraging—and a little ironic. "The stuff is gross, for sure, but it’s far from the most disgusting meat product out there," he writes in the New York Times, "and at least its origins reflect an attempt to make meat safer." The idea of spraying beef with ammonia, after all, was devised to eliminate bacteria that's caused by an industrial food machine operating on "a scale that’s far too large to sustain without significant collateral damage."

The slime is "a symptom, not a disease," he continues. The reason beef was sprayed with ammonia in the first place was because grain-fed, factory-farmed cows tend to get E. coli—which is also developing resistance to healthy cows that are routinely pumped full of antibiotics. Until we seriously rethink our meat production, it's not going to be any safer, with or without slime. Further, "ammonia isn't nearly the most egregious chemical that’s approved for use on meat without your knowing it." Click for Bittman's full column.

This undated file photo provided by Beef Products Inc., shows the company's ammonia-treated filler, known in the industry as lean, finely textured beef, or as you know it, pink slime.
This undated file photo provided by Beef Products Inc., shows the company's ammonia-treated filler, known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," or as you know it, pink slime.   (AP Photo/Beef Products Inc.)
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