What is ‘Pink Slime’?

shutterstock_76045753First it was ‘school choice’ and now it’s school lunch flesh choice. The federal government is giving school districts across the country the option to choose 95 percent lean beef that contains a filler known to some as ‘pink slime’ or a fattier beef that contains none of it. The Philadelphia School District is currently weighing its options—on the one hand, pink slime. On the other, fat kids. Say it with me: Aaaarrrrghhh.

School District spokesman Fernando Gallard told KYW, “We do have nutrition experts in our district that will look at the options and see how that compares to what we’re currently serving.  So nutrition will be one big factor.”

But what is this pink slime stuff? Is it, like, that space-age McDonalds photo meme that made its way across the Internet a couple months back? Remains from the set of Ghostbusters 2?

We scoured the Internet for some information on the stuff so you don’t have to. Check it out below. And happy Friday!

Pink slime is a lean meat filler put into fat beef to cut its actual fat content. According to this article from the Associated Press, it’s actually “bits of meat left over from other cuts. It’s heated and spun to remove the fat, then compressed into blocks for mixing into conventional ground beef.”

Because the stuff is processed to contain little fat and is technically meat, the meat industry doesn’t have to inform the consumer that the fried patty they’re biting into contains the goop, rather than just being an all-natural ground slab of sirloin. Some have alleged the slime is also doused in liquid ammonia (a claim the American Meat Institute partially denies; this seemingly pro-pink slime piece from the Kansas City Star says it’s not so much a douse but an anti-bacterial puff, which is “either a mix of ammonia and water or citric acid, like that found in oranges”) before being added to pure beef and wrapped in plastic/styrofoam. Many have claimed the trimmings and scraps now fit for human consumption were previously only suitable for pet food and the garbage can.

"I eat garbage, too. Your point?"

The National Meat Association claims it’s all good, because, “You can’t differentiate beef from beef.” Advocates of pink slime say it’s saving food; the process represents science just having caught up.

The recent outcry has been a few years in the making, but made all that more immediate with Twitter, bloggers like you, and a Change.org petition. Even if it’s removed from school lunches, an option the USDA has given districts throughout the country, it’s still in 70 percent of the red meat available on the American market.

But the real question that should be asked: How does it taste? According to said AP story, if you like your beef with lots of sick grease and pools of oily blood, au natural is the way to go (which you can do if you’re willing to buy only “organic” meat). Less fat, which the slimey burger contains, means less grease. He described the texture of a pink slime burger as “a mealy chew that, while not overtly unpleasant, didn’t leave me wanting another bite.”

The Philadelphia School district has until next fall to make a decision.

2 Responses to “ What is ‘Pink Slime’? ”

  1. jackie says:

    I hate pink slime its dicusting i had it for lunch today at school and my teacher in health told me about sometimes i think schools are really cheap and crappy and they cant simply give us real food , i mean like come on we are the future help us out here so if schools stop giving pink slime THANK YOU a million times i love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!P.S i am 10 yrs old in 5th grade

  2. Gerald says:

    My main concern is the ammonia? Since this has been used for so long, has any credible studies been made to determine IF the ammonia is associated with the large degree of colon cancers? We DO HAVE A MUCH HIGHER DEGREE OF CANCERS TODAY! We are doing something wrong! Everything we eat goes through the tubes.If the food is contaminated – constantly – it will sooner or later make us sick!
    Just like smoking – sooner or later – it will make you real sick and cause sometimes irreversable fatal issues!

    Pink Slime perhaps = ammonia induced colon cancer! If ammonia is a cancer causing agent, in any amount, the USDA SHOULD BAN IT IN FOOD! The pharmasuetical companies would go broke if we knew what really caused our 21st century deseases.

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