Food Court reported last month on McDonald’s announcement to longer use ammonia-treated “lean beef trimmings” known as “pink slime.” Although most fast food chains no longer use the product, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to buy the meat for school lunches.
Lean beef trimmings, or “pink slime” is made by grinding together connective tissue and beef scraps normally destined for dog food and rendering, Beef Products Inc.’s LBT are then treated with ammonia hydroxide, a process that kills pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli. The resulting pinkish substance is later blended into traditional ground beef and hamburger patties.
The USDA, which plans to buy 7 million pounds of Lean Beef Trimmings from BPI in the coming months for the national school lunch program, said in a statement that all of its ground beef purchases “meet the highest standard for food safety.” USDA officials also noted that the sole role of the food inspection service is to determine the overall safety of the nation’s food supply, not to make judgments on a product’s relative merits.
As Food Court previously reported labeling requirements make it difficult to determine when pink slime is used in meat.
The FDA holds ammonia as a processing agent, which does not have to be included on the label. Thus, pink slime will not be found on the label or is labeled as “ground beef.”
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