Friday, March 30, 2012

Governors stand up for pink slme

Several Governors from beef producing states are pushing back on the pink slime issue. They are hitting the main stream news touting the safety and long term use of pink slime as a reason for people to continue to eat beef containing the ammonia treated product.

On a Fox News broadcast this morning, Governor Sam Brownback said we have been eating pink slime for 20 years without issue, so we shouldn't stop eating it now. Oh really? A quick news search will tell you that simply isn't true. Beef recalls abound, primarily from contaminated ground beef.

A recent case involved over 40,000 lbs of Tyson ground beef contaminated with E. Coli in December 2011. A google news search under the term "beef recall" show case after case of ground beef recalled for E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella contamination. The USDA maintains a data base going back to 1996 where you can search for all food recalls. Ground beef and beef sausages (made, obviously, from ground up beef) feature prominently.

The fact is the process of making ground beef on a factory level inherently contains a risk of bacterial contamination and 70% of America's ground beef contains pink slime. Making pink slime (aka lean finely textured beef) is even more risky than the ground beef itself. That is why it must be treated with ammonia before being added to ground beef and sold to unsuspecting consumers. So despite the claims of governors concerned about job loses in the pink slime producing industry, highly processed ground beef and the use of pink slime is not without issue.

While I can understand governors trying to protect their states industries, my personal opinion is that foods containing pink slime should be clearly labeled. The use of pink slime does make ground beef cheaper and people should be able to decide of they want to take the additional risk of using pink slime to save some money.

If the governors really wanted to make an impact on this issue, instead of publicity shoots of them eating slime burgers, an independent study showing a nutritional comparison of slime beef vs regular beef, or a bacteria test of some beef with and without slime would be much more productive. Stop trying to manipulate consumers and just give them the facts. Then let each person make an informed choice. If you are actively working to make it harder for people to know what is really in their food, you can't be surprised when people avoid your products like a pink plague.

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