Do You Know Nutrition: Have you been pink slimed?

By Phylis Canion
April 3, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 2, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.

You recently had an article on mechanically separated chicken you referred to as pink goo. Is all this news about pink slime the same thing except with ground beef? Can you please elaborate a bit more? How much of our ground beef is prepared with this filler? Who makes it? Can we avoid purchasing it? What is the real name that we need to look for on products - if they even have it on a label?

Mechanically separated does refer to the process of grinding a chicken carcass with all the connective tissue, fat and bones minus the breast, wings and legs, then forcing it through a sieve and voila - you have pink goo.

With beef - pink slime - nickname earned by a formerly inedible byproduct of the beef industry once used in pet food, has been around for years and produced by Beef Products Inc.

The process is basically the same as chicken, by grinding beef scraps together along with connective tissue then forced through a sieve (to retain non grindable fragments).

To prevent the risk of E. coli and salmonella, it is then washed with ammonia hydroxide and water. A little known fact is that E. coli is as natural as ammonia and our bodies contain both.

However, it became a problem when people started feeding corn to cows. This caused a mutation to occur with the E. coli bacteria in the cow, which has led to a harmful strain to humans, according to biologists from the United States Department of Agriculture and Cornell University.

According to British Chef Jamie Oliver and other reports, about 70 percent of supermarket ground beef contains pink slime. The product is referred to as Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings or Finely Textured Beef.

At present, the USDA does not require labeling that would let consumers know if the beef they are purchasing contains this toxic mixture. While some stores may not add the mixture to ground beef, they may carry frozen beef products that contain pink slime.

You could have been slimed if you have eaten low-fat hot dogs, taco meat, chili, beef sticks snacks, sausages, pepperoni and other encased meats, retail frozen entrees and meatballs.

If ground beef is labeled as certified USDA organic, it cannot contain any fillers, including pink slime. A disturbing fact you may not know is that if you have eaten a hamburger at a fast food chain, chances are you have eaten pink slime.

Even more disturbing is that more than 5.5 million pounds of the pink slime were fed to kids as far back at 2008.

Thought for the week: Learn to breathe deeply, taste food and sleep well.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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