To the editor,
What’s in a name? Unfortunately, in the case of so-called ‘pink slime’ there is a lot of misinformation driving disastrous results. Following an ABC TV news story and comments made by food critic Jamie Oliver (the same person who claimed chocolate milk was ruining our children’s health), the misnomer triggered social media hysteria.
A more appropriate name for the product is ‘Lean, Finely-Textured Beef.’ It is a boneless, lean beef product, made from beef trimmings that are 100-percent USDA inspected. When meat is cut the way consumers prefer it, the fat that is trimmed contains small slivers of beef—much the same as when you or I trim additional fat from a steak or roast before preparing it. The beef in the trimmings becomes finely textured when high-tech equipment is used to remove the fat. The product is initially warmed to help separate the fat from the high-quality beef that is then at least 90 percent lean.
Technology has helped make our food safer, last longer, go further, and cost less! When only one step of the process is observed, the benefits are not always evident. Concerns have been raised about ammonium hydroxide used in the process. That is a gas—not to be confused with the familiar liquid ammonia we use for household tasks. A puff of gas is added near the end of the process for cleaning and safety, and it is not absorbed into the meat. Ammonium hydroxide has been used for over 20 years without any adverse reports. It helps add another layer of safety for consumers.
According to the American Meat Institute, not reclaiming such finely textured beef would require 1.5 million more cattle to replace it in the beef sold today. The process used to recover the meat from the trimmings is sustainability in action—resulting in as little waste as possible and helping reduce costs. Today’s farmers work hard to produce quality products that we all enjoy. Don’t let a misnamed product and its accompanying misinformation guide your purchasing decisions. Beef—it’s what’s for dinner! Continue to enjoy it!
Mary Van Zante