Monday, March 26, 2012

Things are warming up here in Colorado!! We are heading into BBQ season!! Nothing like a juicy burger topped with caramelized onions, a slice of crispy bacon, a dollop of guac and topped with lettuce and tomato!  Yum!! I can almost taste it!

However, there is an evil lurking in your beef that you may be unaware of...Pink slime!! Have you heard of it?! Does it sound tasty?!?? Wanna eat it?

Well, you probably have been, as have your kids, especially if they eat school lunch.  A year ago the USDA bought 7 million pounds of it for school lunches. (more info) Have they used it all, I wonder?  Will they buy more?  I hope not!

I'm sorry, maybe you don't know what Pink Slime is.  Pink Slime is connective tissue and cow product - whatever that is - ground up to produce Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) or how about something a bit more descriptive... "It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger, plus it’s treated with ammonia..." (see here) due to the higher likelihood of contaminants such as E. Coli and salmonella. Hmmm... if you grew up in the 80's you might be wondering "Where's the Beef?".  

And what exactly is this Ammonia Hydroxide that this contaminated, non-meat product is being treated with? 

          Besides being used as a household cleaner and in fertilizers, the  compound releases flammable vapors, and with the addition of certain acids, it can be turned into ammonium nitrate, a common component in homemade bombs. It's also widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products. It's regulated by the U.S. Agriculture Department, which classifies it as "generally recognized as safe."

Hmmm... I hadn't thought of flavoring my burger with fertilizer! Or sprinkling a little window cleaner on my lettuce!  And I hope the acid in my tomato doesn't have any weird side effects with the chemicals in my meat!! That would cause quite a stomach ache!  Ok - I'm getting a little cheeky! Sorry! But does anyone else still wonder why cancer is so rampant in our society these days?!

Thankfully, there has been a large outcry against putting pink slime in our beef.  One of the most well known warriors is Jamie Oliver who is trying to improve school lunches overall.  As of next fall, schools working with the national school lunch program will be able to choose whether or not they serve pink slime to our children. (more info)  You may want to speak up at your school's PTO or to a member of the school board. I'm not sure who will be making the decision but let your voice be heard if you feel strongly about it.

Interestingly, with all the research I did, it appears that there are the people like Jamie and myself who are appalled we have been eating this stuff - without knowing! - and there are others who don't think it's a big deal because it is "thought" - by some - not to be harmful, or at least "generally recognized as safe" (emphasis mine), according to the USDA.

Here's what it comes down to.... there is a reason ingredients are to be listed on a package of food.  It is so I can decide what I want to put in my body and the bodies of those I love!  If there is ammonia hydroxide in my food - which is listed on the  Right To Know Hazardous Substance List - then I have the Right To Know that it's in the beef I'm feeding my family!

So, how do you know if this pink slime is in your beef since it's not labeled on the package? If the meat is not organic and is pre-packaged, it is likely in there! Yes, even if it says "All Natural".  Don't be fooled by that label, it is not regulated!  Your safest bet is to purchase organic ground beef, buy from a local rancher, or shop from one of the stores that don't tolerate pink slime. To see if your store sells meat with pink slim, click here.  The other option is to shop at your store and have the butcher grind up some sirloin or chuck roast for your ground beef. 

Here's the latest. if you care to look a little deeper.

I guess my biggest "beef" with this whole thing - oh that was bad - is that I am not being fully informed as to what I'm putting in my body.  And if they aren't telling me about a hazardous substance that is on The Right To Know list, then what else am I ingesting that I don't have the right to know?  What are they doing to my ground turkey?  What other ingredients or treatments to ingredients am I ignorant of which leads me to naively ingest things that can harm me? Why bother with an ingredient list if the nasty things don't need to be mentioned?

So, while the weather warms and we fire up the grill, be aware of your options out there!  By all means, grab your homemade buns and cakes and enjoy your juicy burger with all the toppings!! Just make mine organic, please!

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