Oldspeak:“So the stuff that the Ghostbusters struggled to contain is in ground beef, that’s being served to kids in copious amounts, despite the fact that there are no significant cost savings from adding it to meat. Why? Big Agra has so thoroughly corrupted and captured its toothless regulatory agency that the agency is buying demonstrably dangerous food additives that facilitate Big Agra’s dangerous and toxic industrial scale food production methods.”There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” –Nelson Mandela
Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned
By Washington’s Blog:
ABC news notes:
“Pink slime,” a cheap meat filler, is in 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets and up to 25 percent of each American hamburger patty, by some estimates.
The USDA just bought 7 million pounds of pink slime to add to school lunches (up from 5.5 million pounds in 2009).
Jamie Oliver gave a must-watch demonstration on the subject a year ago:
But at least we know where the real meat part of ground beef comes from … right?
Nope … the World Trade Organization struck down American laws requiring labeling of beef to disclose the country of origin:
But at least beef is being tested for horrible diseases like mad cow disease, right?
Negatory: the government does very little testing … and prohibits private citizens such as ranchers or meat packers from testing it themselves.
What Should We Do?
So what’s the answer?
You could buy a pot roast or another cut of meat and grind it yourself. That way, you’ll be sure there’s nothing but real meat. (Talk to the butcher in your grocery store’s meat department; he’ll help you buy the right cut.)
Or you could buy grass-fed beef. Organic, grass-fed usually contains no pink slime.
And all grass-fed beef – organic or not – has a much lower risk for mad cow than other types of beef.
Because mad cow disease is most commonly caused by feeding animal products to cows. For example, Wikipedia notes:
A British inquiry into BSE [the scientific abbreviation for mad cow] concluded that the [disease] was caused by cattle, who are normally herbivores, being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal (MBM), which caused the infectious agent to spread.
If they are fed grass – their natural food – they are much less likely to get sick.
Stores like Trader Joe’s label grass fed, so it is easy to find.
Grass-fed beef also contains more Omega 3s than beef from cows fed corn, meat or other “modern” feeds. See this and this.
Why is this important? Because eating Omega 3 rich foods can increase gray matter in adults and boost neurological development in children. Conversely, low dietary levels of Omega 3s in mothers can reduce their kids’ IQ. (This is not entirely surprising, given that (1) our brains are about 60% fat, and (2) leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume alot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so).
And if you think that asking for organic beef is a counterculture hippy thing, note that Ronald Reagan insisted on organic meat.
Partners In Slime: Feds Keep Buying Ammonia-Treated Ground Beef For School Lunches
By David Knowles:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s continued purchase of so-called pink slime for school lunches makes no sense, according to two former microbiologists at the Food Safety Inspection Service.
“I have a 2-year-old son,” microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein told The Daily. “And you better believe I don’t want him eating pink slime when he starts going to school.”
It was Zirnstein who first coined the term “pink slime” after touring a Beef Products Inc. production facility in 2002 as part of an investigation into salmonella contamination in packaged ground beef. In an email to his colleagues shortly after the visit, Zirnstein said he did not “consider the stuff to be ground beef.”
Made by grinding together connective tissue and beef scraps normally destined for dog food and rendering, BPI’s Lean Beef Trimmings 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.
For retired microbiologist Carl Custer, a 35-year veteran of the Food Safety Inspection Service, the idea of mixing in BPI’s Lean Beef Trimmings into more nutritious, pure ground beef was itself problematic.
“We originally called it soylent pink,” Custer told The Daily. “We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”
Custer said he first encountered the product — which gained fame recently as “pink slime” in part due to the efforts of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver — back in the late 1990s. Despite voicing his concerns to other officials at the food inspection service, however, the USDA ruled that Lean Beef Trimmings were safe. “The word in the office was that undersecretary JoAnn Smith pushed it through, and that was that,” Custer said.
Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, Smith had deep ties with the beef industry, serving as president of both the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the of the National Cattlemen’s Association.
“Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein said.
A baseline study conducted by Zirstein and Custer classified the trimmings as a “high risk product.” Zirnstein says the food inspection service ignored their findings, and commissioned a separate study to assess the safety of BPI’s meat.
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.
But Zirnstein and Custer say that the USDA now finds itself in the odd position of purchasing a product that has recently been dropped by fast-food giants McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell.
“My objection with having it in the schools is that it’s not meat,” Custer said.
In 2005, the USDA limited the amount of ammonia-treated Lean Beef Trimmings in a serving of ground beef to 15 percent, but lax labeling requirements mean that it is virtually impossible as a consumer — and for parents of children at a schools where “pink slime” is a part of lunch — to know whether a given package of ground beef or hamburger patty contains it.
“The USDA-AMS [Agricultural Marketing Service] does allow for the inclusion of BPI Boneless Lean Beef in the ground beef they procure for all their federal food programs and, according to federal labeling requirements, it is not a raw material that is uniquely labeled,” Amy Bell, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education Food Distribution Program, told The Daily in an email. “Accordingly, there is no way to tell from simply looking at a package of finished product if BPI Boneless Lean Beef is in the product mix.”
Last year, the USDA said that 6.5 percent of the beef it purchased for the national school lunch program came from BPI.
In part, it’s the lack of clear labeling that rankles both Zirnstein and Custer.
“It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger, plus it’s treated with ammonia, an additive that is not declared anywhere,” Custer said.
“They’ve taken a processed product, without labeling it, and added it to raw ground beef,” Zirnstein said. “Science is the truth, and pink slime at this point in time is a fraudulent lie.”
Neither BPI, nor Smith, who now serves on the board of directors at Tyson Foods, responded to The Daily’s request for comment on this story.