McDonald's has declared that it will no longer use "pink slime" in the manufacturing of its food products, ABC News reported yesterday.
Much like you're probably doing right now, when I first heard the news I asked myself, What the hell is pink slime?
And much like most Americans, I had no clue about a despicable yet widespread process that has been used for years. That is until celebrity chef Jamie Oliver decided to discuss it on his show and the info went viral.
In a heart-stopping display of greed, the food industry found a way to manufacture food using products that are not otherwise safe (or approved) for human consumption.
Once a cow has been dismantled, the trimmings that remain are normally used as an ingredient in pet food. The reason these bits, commonly referred to as 'boneless lean beef trimmings,' are used only for pet and not human food is because they are unsafe to eat -- they are brimming with potentially fatal bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.
The use of boneless lean beef trimmings in human food is banned in the United Kingdom, but we enterprising Americans figured out a way to serve them to human beings.
We bleach them.
Companies such as Beef Products Incorporated (BPI) "disinfect" these diseased beef bits with (drum roll please) AMMONIA. Yes, the company 'cleans' the beef with ammonia in order to create what Oliver calls "pink slime."
This story has numerous villains, though. While BPI is obviously a bad guy, the business ethics of companies such as McDonald's, which until recently used the pink slime as an ingredient in its burgers, are just as unconscionable. What's worse, the USDA, you know, the federal department created to protect us from harmful food, is a co-conspirator.
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The USDA does not require companies to divulge the fact that ammonia was used in the manufacturing of its products because the ammonia is used during the process of making the food and is not an ingredient.
Of course now that there's a big stink about it, McDonald's has officially declared that it will no longer use pink slime.
But for years we have been eating throw-away cow parts cleaned with ammonia. Thanks, McDonald's. I'm loving it.