Slime is not fine. March 30, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: hamburger additives, Jamie Oliver, pink slime, shun pink slime, Tony Bourdain
What’s the beef? Silence Dogood here. Like all of you, I’ve been following the uproar over “pink slime,” aka “lean finely textured beef,” aka the defatted, processed, finely minced beef tendon tissue and other scraps that have been routinely added to ground beef for the past 20 years.
The problem isn’t the content of the slime. For thousands of years, people the world over have, by necessity, found ways to eat “everything but the squeak” (or in this case, moo). High-profile offal-loving chefs like Tony Bourdain should be squealing with delight that these normally indigestible parts have been rendered edible, so nothing is wasted. (I have to wonder why they’re not ending up in pet food instead of people’s hamburgers, though.)
The problem is the way the slime is “sanitized”—by being sprayed with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria. I don’t know about you, but I can only sympathize with anyone who’d prefer not to eat ammonia-laced food. Just smelling ammonia is more than I can bear.
Someone blew the whistle on the ammonia treatment, and social media blew the whole pink slime issue sky-high. I say “someone” because The Wall Street Journal (“‘Pink Slime’ Defenders Line Up,” 3-29-12, www.wsj.com) says that the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver “detailed how it is made in a TV special,” setting off the media feeding frenzy, while ABC News (“‘Dude, It’s Beef!': Governors Tour Plant, Reject ‘Pink Slime’ Label,” 3-29-12, http://news.yahoo.com/) say it was scientists from the USDA, touring a plant where pink slime was made with ABC reporters, who blew the whistle. The ABC story refers to those scientists as “former” employees of the USDA, implying that they were fired for exposing the ammonia-spraying to the public, since the official USDA position is that pink slime, excuse me, lean finely textured beef, is perfectly safe.
No doubt. And there’s also no doubt, based on the ABC story, that pretty much everyone vouching for pink slime’s health qualities and safety is being bankrolled by the company that produces it, Beef Products Inc. I won’t go into the tawdry details, since they’re all there in the story, but the fact that, in The Wall Street Journal article, the governers of five beef-producing states toured a BFI plant in support of their constituents, and announced that they were actually willing to eat burgers prepared with the dreaded pink slime to show their support says it all, as far as I’m concerned.
Not because they toured a BPI plant. Not because they expressed support (especially since BPI supported so many of their campaigns). But because of the way they announced that they would actually be willing to publicly consume the product in question. “We’re going to consume it,” said Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, as if he were planning to snack on some alien fungus that had fallen to Earth.
Governer Branstad, bless his heart, also spoke up on two other issues. He pointed out that adding the beef-fat-free pink slime would counter the obesity crisis, since the slime is low-fat, while consuming additive-free beef would contribute to the obesity crisis. Great news! And guess what: Not eating beef of any kind, ammonia-enhanced or otherwise, would counter the obesity crisis even more.
And then, apparently trying to reach tender-hearted meat-eaters, he pointed out that “You effectively need to kill 1.5 million more head of cattle in a year to replace the meat that would go off the market from this unwarranted, unmerited food scare.”
Yowie! Kill more cattle?! Folks who care about killing cattle wouldn’t eat them in the first place.
For everyone else, please, I beg you, buy beef that comes from organic, free-range, grass-fed steers and cows. Then you don’t need to worry about pink slime, and can enjoy your ammonia-free burgers.
‘Til next time,