What is pink slime?
There has been a lot of press recently regarding lean, finely textured beef known better as "pink slime," What is pink slime, and why should we care?
Pink slime is a meat filler manufactured (again I ask: Should our food be manufactured?) mainly by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. It is made from fatty bits leftover from other cuts and treated with ammonia gas.
What comes to my mind is a burger made from 1,000 cows.
According to foodinsight.org, sponsored by the International Food Information Council Foundation, ammonia hydroxide gas is a processing agent approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture "commonly used to reduce or kill foodborne pathogens. ...
"Processing aids are not required to be declared in the ingredients list on the food label because, by definition, processing aids have no technical or functional effect in the finished food and because they are either not present or are present at only insignificant levels in the finished food. This labeling exemption dates back to 1973."
Oh, boy, where do I start? I interpret the above as legalese.
Have we not progressed in our thinking since 1973?
Are we building furniture here? "Finished product" — what does that mean?
Are the processing aids present or not? It appears to me that what's not present are any nutrients.
Where is the transparency? We should know everything about the foods we are putting into our one, precious body.
Frankly, I do not put much faith into the USDA or the FDA for determining what is safe and nutritious for my body or my children's bodies.
Yes, our children. An article by Josh Funk, Associated Press business writer, says, "The USDA this year is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. About 7 million pounds of that is from BPI," the manufacturer of pink slime.
This is where we need to be our own health advocates: The government says it's OK, so it must be OK? Nuts to that. When money is involved, my observation is that politicians will often say and do what they need to, to get what they want for their constituents.
For example, on Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said in a joint statement: "Lean, finely textured beef (pink slime) is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science. Our states proudly produce food for the country and the world — and we do so with the highest commitment toward product safety."
Why do we need a politician to tell us that our food is safe and nutritious — is this the litmus test or standard for what is best for our bodies?
I have seen a lot of new faces at New Earth Market since the pink slime issue gained national attention. People are beginning to understand how important it is to seek out the highest quality, least processed foods.
Give this some thought. What's in your meat?
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.