The recent media controversy regarding pink slime, the unfortunately nicknamed beef product, has hurt parent company Beef Product Inc. and had raised consumer awareness about the food content and safety.
The controversy began a few months ago when media outlets across the country ran stories about the food additive. Colloquially known as pink slime, and called boneless lean beef trimmings or lean finely textured beef by Beef Products Inc., the food additive was approve for human consumption in 2001. The process of producing pink slime involves taking previously unsafe beef scraps and connective tissue, spinning them in a centrifuge to separate the meat from the fat, and treating the meat with ammonia gas to kill salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria.
While pink slime has not been approved for direct human consumption, it is allowed to constitute up to 15 percent of ground beef without additional labeling.
Some recent studies suggest, however, that pink slime beef products are significantly less safe than ground beef made without the additive. A New York Times report suggested that pink slime beef was 4 times as likely to contain E. coli or salmonella.
In the wake of the report, many grocery stores and farmers are reporting that consumers are demanding the removal of pink slime and have become more aware of what is in the foods they eat. According to the director of a major Des Moines, Iowa farmers market, “There was a time when people were pretty complacent about their food and just trusted someone else was going to take care of them. The dialogue has changed a lot. Now people want to know who is growing their food.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer