“Pink slime” may be safe to eat, but consumers have made it very clear that they think it’s nasty–and grocery stores and fast food chains are taking note. Responding to public outcry over the unappetizing meat product, Kroger, Safeway and Stop & Shop have both joined Whole Foods, A&P, and Costco in the decision to no longer sell ground beef that contains the controversial ingredient. McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell have all also stopped carrying beef products which contain the ingredient, which is also known as “lean finely-textured beef.”
The beef filler, which is made of connective tissue, meat trimmings, and “parts of the cow with high exposure to fecal matter,” then sanitized with ammonia and combined with other ground beef, has widely been condemned by consumers–particularly in light of the discovery that the USDA was trying to foist it upon schools. And while the FDA and the maker of the slime, Beef Products, Inc., both maintain that the stuff is safe (which, technically, it is), for many consumers, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily something they want to eat.
Prior to the overwhelming negative press that “pink slime” has received in the last few weeks, as much as 70% of grocery store ground beef sold in the U.S. contained LFTB. But because so many consumers are upset about it–and the fact that the FDA and the USDA don’t require beef manufacturers to label additives, like the ammonia in “pink slime”–stores and fast food chains have started to look for merchants and providers who definitely don’t use it. That way, even if products aren’t required to state what they contain (which is, dare I say, the meatier issue at hand), consumers can rest assured that any meat they may find in the grocery store is slime-free. Of course, the best way to avoid questionable ingredients is to select humane, certified organic meat products–but that’s just not financially plausible for all families.
“Pink slime” is just the tip of the unhealthy iceberg when it comes to crap that the meat, dairy, and other subsidized industries can sell without additional labeling–but it’s nice to see that consumer outcry and media coverage can be powerful enough to curb behavior. Next stop: more comprehensive labeling of what’s in your food? Here’s hoping.
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