Pink Slime

Have you guys seen this stuff?? If not, guess which McDonalds food this is?

If you guessed ice cream, you’d be wrong. Try chicken McNuggets. Ew.

It’s one of the biggest stories going around the internet, especially now because the controversy has drawn in school lunches. Let me back up; what is pink slime?

It can be made of chicken or beef, although most of the stories in the news right now are about the beef slime. This photo is taken of chicken slime. Basically, the chickens are put in a mechanical separator to “de-bone” them. All the other parts get blended together to make this lovely soft-serve.

In beef, all the leftover parts of the cow are blended together (minus the de-boning), heated and spun to reduce the fat content. You end up with a gooey, sticky pink slime that can be added to fattier cuts of meat to decrease the total percent fat. If the process and texture doesn’t gross you out, this will. Pink slime has a higher incidence of e.coli and salmonella because some of the parts are from the outside of the cow. In order to compensate for the disease, the pink slime is treated with ammonia.

This product has been used for quite some time in school lunches and only recently have schools been able to request slime-less beef.  Unfortunately, because so many manufacturers use this product, it’s nearly impossible for school to find suppliers that are slime free, so if your kid eat lunch at school, odds are they’re eating slime.

If you’re looking at the meat you buy in the grocery store, hoping to see pink slime listed there, you won’t find it. Manufacturers aren’t required to include the ingredient because it’s still qualified as beef.  If you get lucky, the product may be labeled as “lean, finely textured beef” and its estimated that 70% of the beef we buy contains pink slime.  This also means that almost every burger you buy at a fast food restaurant contains the pink slime, however many restaurants are now starting to advertise the fact that they buy slime-free meat. Even Taco Bell has jumped on the band wagon, which made me think, “how bad is this meat that Taco Bell won’t even serve it?”

Kevin and I aren’t vegans, but I definitely keep having my eyes opened about the way we eat meat. Organically raised, grass fed, free range beef may very well be incredibly healthy, but how can I ever find meat like this? Do you all have free range meat you can buy locally?  Is this enough to make you give up meat altogether?



5 responses to this post.

  1. Ugh, that makes me nauseous! Ever since I watched Food Inc. I’ve been even more hardcore about the meat I eat. Jamie Oliver did a real demonstration of chicken nugget processing in that Food Revolution show he did…I stay away from those, too. I know a butcher in my area that does only the local, grass fed, organic beef. When I can afford to, that’s where I go. 🙂


    • Food Inc was actually the documentary that got us started eating healthy too! I just couldn’t believe what goes into the meat we buy at the grocery store.


  2. Posted by Amber on March 22, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I’m really disheartened by how certain medias have sensationalized this issue and not really presented the facts from the beef farmers and processors. Please ask the farmers who provide your beef what they think of the use of lean beef trimmings… let’s call the product by it’s real name. Check out this video,, it’s not as attention grabbing as the one most people saw of meet cuts being spun in a washing machine and then covered in ammonia. This video is actually fact based and brought to you by the farmers that work hard to supply the U.S. with beef.


    • Amber,
      Thank you for your comment. The purpose of the post was to open discussion about “pink slime” and hopefully present some facts about it so that people could make a more educated decision about the food they eat. Because I do not work in the plants that supply beef, and because I am not a farmer or a member of the FDA or USDA, the information that I receive about this product will of course be second-hand, and therefore subject to bias. I do my best to validate the source of the information presented here, but of course there is a significant chance that I can be wrong. I will ask the same of you as well. Do you have direct access to plants where this beef is processed? Can you confirm through peer-reviewed research the safety of these products?
      Regarding the ammonium hydroxide; many websites are claiming that the ammonium hydroxide used in beef produts is different from household ammonia cleaner. Other than dilution, how is NH4OH different from NH4OH? Additionaly, just because the ammonium-hydroxide in the beef has FDA GRAS status, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing for our long-term health. The anti-biotics used in beef are also FDA approved.
      Honestly, I think the most important question is really about what we put in our mouths. Do we want to eat meat that is so processed? I guess from my persepctive, I want to eat the most natural and chemical-free foods I can, and I would like the know how the beef I eat was raised, processed and packaged before I consume it. I don’t claim that including beef trimmings is going to kill you or give you cancer, but I do think we should have all the information before we eat.
      Thanks again for stopping by our blog and sharing your thoughts.


  3. Sara,

    Browsing through your blog, and came upon this post. Finding organic meat comes at a higher price, but it’s not that difficult to get your hands on anymore. Most grocery stores now offer sections of organic product in each department. Some, like Kroger, even have a “store within a store” set where you can simply shop the organic/natural store set in one area of the grocery store. If this is not an option near you, do you have something close to a meat market or a Whole Foods? There is a family owned store just a block from my condo and their entire focus is natural and organic food.

    Truthfully, until I did my research on what really goes into processed foods, I thought purchasing organic food (outside of produce, dairy, and meat) was a waste of money: it seemed to me people thought organic and natural were synonymous to “healthy,” which is NOT true. Now, with a little more knowledge on why ultra processed food is no good for us, I’m beginning to grasp the benefits of eating whole versus processed, and if it can be budgeted into your spending, then I would recommend it ten-fold.

    There are different definitions of organic and natural, depending on which organization deems it as such. Your best bet for protein will be USDA organic, so look for the little green and white sticker. If a specific farm is listed instead, that’s still a good bet. And yet there are still loopholes to “organic” food — some may not be 100%, but if they reach a specific percentage, they don’t need to specify. For instance, in the pet industry (I apologize, this is where I have a vast amount of knowledge with nutrition) EVERY BRAND seems to have their own line of organic dog and cat food now, but there is no such thing as 100% USDA organic pet food: the vitamins and minerals added to the product is synthesized and so, will never be considered organic. Some pet food cut costs by using organic protein and skimping on the rest of the ingredients. Others use organic grains and veggies, but skimp on the protein.

    Finding a butcher will always guarantee good results, as well. They’re going to know the product they sell better than what we could estimate. It may be worthwhile seeing one in your area. And organic meat tastes so much better than what we’re used to… I’m convinced it tastes the way it’s supposed to. Have you ever had organic milk? WORLD of difference in taste!


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