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Pink slime — that ammonia-treated meat in a bright Pepto-bismol shade — may have been rejected by fast food joints like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King, but is being brought in by the tons for the nation’s school lunch program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is purchasing 7 million pounds of the “slime” for school lunches, The Daily reports. Officially termed “Lean Beef Trimmings,” the product is a ground-up combination of beef scraps, cow connective tissues and other beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It’s then blended into traditional meat products like ground beef and hamburger patties.
“We originally called it soylent pink,” microbiologist Carl Custer, who worked at the Food Safety Inspection Service for 35 years, told The Daily.
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No more slimeburgers? Until recently, 70 percent of burgers in the United States contained “pink slime”, also known as ammoniated boneless lean beef trimmings, a cheap beef filling unfit for consumption until it is gassed with ammonia. Now McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King are dropping the magic additive following a campaign of withering criticism from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Via the Argus Leader:
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McDonald’s and two other fast-food chains have stopped using an ammonia-treated burger ingredient that meat industry critics deride as “pink slime.” The product remains widely used as beef filling in burger meat, including in school meals.
The beef is processed by Beef Products Inc. in Iowa and in three other states. One of the company’s chief innovations is to cleanse the beef of E. coli bacteria and other dangerous microbes by treating it with ammonium hydroxide.
“Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold at the cheapest form for dogs, and after this process we can give it to humans,” food activist Jamie Oliver said in a segment of his ABC television show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, that aired last spring.
Apparently, highly radioactive beef from cows that lived near the Fukushima accident site is unknowingly being served up as burgers at Tokyo eateries, AFP reports:
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Radiation fears mounted in Japan on Wednesday after news that contaminated beef from a farm just outside the Fukushima nuclear no-go zone has been shipped across the country and probably eaten.
Meat from 11 cows at the farm was found at the weekend to be contaminated with up to six times the legal limit of caesium and the farmer has since admitted he fed the animals straw exposed to radioactive fallout.
Of the total amount, 3,165 pounds of beef were distributed to shops and restaurants in 12 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, a Tokyo metropolitan government official said.
Food testing remains largely under the control of prefectural officials, who admit that they can only carry out spot checks for contamination. Fukushima prefecture officials said the farmer had stated in a questionnaire that the cows had not been fed contaminated straw, but tests later showed the straw contained caesium 56 times the legal limit, Kyodo News reported.