Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pink Slime is Nothing New

Dear meat eating friends, you know I'm not one of those vegetarians who preaches at you or judges your diet harshly. Once in a while, a little bit of animal flesh even passes my lips. This is rare, no pun intended. Anyway, we're friends. Let's chat about this "pink slime" controversy.

The recent explosion of revulsion and protest, mostly on social networking websites, over this image of "pink slime meat" has us scratching our heads at the Burning House. It is almost, if not quite, as if you were all just waking up to the fact that your hamburgers come from those nice cows you see grazing on the side of the freeway. It's touching, really.

Granted, this image is rather disconcerting. You are not meant to see your meat in this stage of processing. If you harvested your own meat, as some still do, it would not look like this -- but that would be a pretty disconcerting sight, too, if you're not used to it.

What you are looking at here is a "textured beef." You see, during the slaughtering process (for your meat comes from animals), a lot of "bits" end up on the floor. Forgive me, but these are bits of muscle and sinew and tissue from freshly-killed animals. This stuff used to be ground up for pet food, but now it's used for human consumption. They grind it up and mash it together. But dead bodies are germy. In order to kill pathogens that may cause you to get sick, the meat plants treat this mash of dead meat with a pink chemical that kills the microbes. It's an ammonia product, and it has been used in beef products since the 1990s. That includes the meat served in schools. Your supermarkets. And yes, McDonald's.

I'm not picking on my meat-eating friends, really. I'm not a preachy vegetarian. Just sayin', if y'all are going to get in a tizzy about how your meat is prepared, we here at the Burning House would suggest (1) not looking at photographs of the process, (2) harvesting your own if you are appalled by the meat industry (and it is a pretty appalling industry, we'll grant you), and (3) considering a smaller helping of meat and a bigger helping of the other stuff.

We will be happy to share recipes.


Kelly said...

Ha! You don't scare me, Algernon. After all, I do have cows grazing on my property and have been known to participate in providing the wild game for our freezer (assisting in the cleaning process as well as the harvesting).

As you know, I spent eight years as a vegetarian (lacto/ovo) then willingly reintroduced meat into my diet.

My daughter recently read something about how much dirt/bugs etc. was legally allowed in the processing of many fruits and vegetables - and not just fresh, but canned and frozen. So...I don't think any of us are truly safe from contaminents.

I just don't think about it too closely. Unless, of course, I'm trying to kill my appetite for one reason or another. ;)

David Ashton said...

Every bit of PR helps, since the dumb critters can't speak for themselves. Bows.

Algernon said...

The intention is not to scare, Kelly. Personally, I feel rather differently about the way you handle meat than the vast meat industry. This really is not a finger-shaking post. If anything, I would urge people to be highly aware of their food and where it comes from -- when they wash their vegetables, when they prepare a chicken, when they throw bits of food away, when they sit at the table, when they sweep the kitchen. This is an area of our daily business where we touch life and death. Why not be aware?

Kelly said...

I hear you and I agree.

Interestingly enough, there was a big article in my local paper about this today (I was drawn to the words "pink slime") and I feel very often it IS used as a scare tactic.

Mumon said...

I'm a meat eater. Maybe I'll reply to this bit here. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Your picture actually is not a beef product, and the beef is not "picked up off of the floor" and used in lean, finely textured beef. The steaks/roasts in grocery stores are trimmed to a certain shaped to make them more appealing to consumer. Its these trimmings that are used to make LFTB. Glad your not totally against beef, but just a few things I read that sounded odd.