Gooey, pink and sprayed with ammonia gas– these, believe it or not, are elements that constitute part of a good meal to many Americans. A substance found in 70 percent of beef sold at supermarkets has been termed “lean, finely-textured beef” according to ABC News, yet it has been dubbed as “Pink slime.”
After certain cuts are made from the cow, such as steaks and roasts, spare tissue is then trimmed. The trims are heated and spun to separate fat and muscle. The spare muscle is passed through tubes that spray the trimmings with citric acid and ammonia.
When combined with moisture in the trimmings, ammonia forms ammonium hydroxide. The item is then frozen and added to other ground beef.
“I think [pink slime] is gross, not right, and I don’t want to eat it,” said Caroline Glausi, freshman. “I don’t think anyone should have to eat it.”
Beef and other meat served at public schools would not meet the standards of main fast-food chains, according to USA Today. The USDA approves of meat it purchases for public schools, saying it “meets or exceeds standards.” Meat that is provided by the USDA supplies 31 million students daily.
“We don’t have that at all at [West Linn High School],” said Barb Youngren, a Cook Manager who monitors WLHS food preparation. “Nothing that we have has fillers, dyes or colors.”
Lunch food for the West Linn/ Wilsonville School Districtis supplied by Sysco and U.S. Government facitilities. According to Youngren, meat from the government is of a higher quality and there is no chance that pink slime is in WLHS beef. The school has always been above standards for meat quality, including in chicken and hotdogs. WLHS serves 100 percent beef.
“I think it’s really sad that [those from the USDA] were deceiving the people,” Youngren said. “I think that the federal government needs to mandate labeling on beef packages.”
Without being documented in food labels, pink slime is added to beef. The USDA informed the public that no more than 15 percent of each serving consists of pink slime, and it is difficult to tell if the byproduct is in meat.
According to CBS News, the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to purchase seven million pounds of lean beef trimmings. The company that produces this pink slime, Beef Products Inc., reports that pink slime minimizes pathogens, is low-cost, and is the same “high-quality” meat as other ground beef. Additionally, BPI informs that ammonium hydroxide is a “natural compound” and was categorized as safe by the FDA in 1974.
Twenty percent of food products in school lunches are distributed by the USDA, according to Education Week. CBS News reported that the bacteria-perishing chemical is appearing in lunch meat. However, many fast-food chains, such as Wendy’s and McDonald’s, do not use pink slime.
Pink slime is derived from trimmings that used to be used in cooking oils and dog food, according the ABC News. It is now being used as a “cheap filler” that the USDA has labeled as meat.
Although BPI is making efforts to improve the sterility of its products, such measures are not required by law.
In addition to pink slime, beef may legally contain other cuts that aren’t from muscle. For instance, ground beef may contain head trimmings and cheek meat. It is not legal for pure beef patties to contain organ meats, however.Regular beef patties may carry ground organs, including tissues from the heart. These tissues must be recognized in the label.
“[Organs being in beef] is freaking gross and bizarre and disgusting,” Gabriela Bauchuitz, freshman, said. “And disappointing.”