Lifestyle & Belief

Pink slime: What's for lunch


SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 24: A stack of ground beef patties moves on a conveyor belt at a meat packing and distribution facility June 24, 2008 in San Francisco, California.


Justin Sullivan

Before you bite into your next burger, you may want to find out where the meat came from.

Farm? Nope. Factory? You wish. Lab? Most likely. 

A substance known as "pink slime" is hitting lunch plates everywhere. However, it isn't a fast food chain using the substance to stretch its dollar, but rather the USDA buying the stuff in bulk, 7 million pounds of it to be exact. 

Of the slime, an ABC News report said, "Once only used in dog food and cooking oil, the trimmings are now sprayed with ammonia so they are safe to eat and added to most ground beef as a cheaper filler." The report defined the beef "slime" as, waste trimmings that are simmered and centrifuged to separate fat from muscle. 

So why not just avoid ordering the stuff? Tell that to your kid. The substance is being fed to children across the country for school lunches.

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While the idea of eating pink sludge made up of food that even Fido wouldn't eat is off putting, Dr. James Marsden who was interviewed for Food Safety News said it may not sound yummy, but it is still safe to eat. "There are all kinds of ingredients in food products that can be falsely characterized as unappetizing when viewed out of context," Marsden said, "When lay persons see the processes of cheese manufacturing, wine making and the production of the most high quality gourmet processed meats, some of the stages in the process are less than appetizing. I think the criticism of BPI's products are based on quality perceptions, not food safety."

The company that makes the product, Beef Products Inc., is also defending the product. "Including LFTB in the national school lunch program's beef products accomplishes three important goals on behalf of 32 million kids," BPI spokesman Rich Jochum told Fox. "It 1) improves the nutritional profile, 2) increases the safety of the products and 3) meets the budget parameters that allow the school lunch program to feed kids nationwide every day."

However, two USDA scientists disagree. Carl Cluster and Gerald Zernstein who publicly outed the USDA for purchasing the substance have called the filler "economic fraud" and said it was not nutritionally equivalent to whole beef. 

The USDA is not required to tell people if there is pink slime in their beef which Cluster and Zernstein claim is in up to 70 percent of supermarket beef

Kind of makes soylent green sound not so far fetched. 

More from GlobalPost: Former food inspectors are angry that "pink slime" is still used in school lunch beef