It’s Safe, But No One Will Eat ‘Pink Slime’

As we noted this morning, Beef Products, Inc. is struggling to convince an outraged, meat-eating public that the “pink slime” or “lean finely textured beef” (choose which one you prefer) is actual beef that you should eat.

Christian Science Monitor reaffirms that the filler, which is made by running scraps through a machine to remove fat and usually involves the use of ammonia to kill bacteria, is safe. It may be safe, but it sounds disgusting. Marion Nestle, a noted nutrition professor and author from New York University says, “The question is whether it’s socially acceptable.”

And the National Meat Association‘s spokesperson Jeremy Russell says, “If our consumers aren’t willing to buy it, there is only so much we can do.” Even the USDA’s statement doesn’t address how appetizing the filler is, only that its safety.

Safe and nasty.

Some are wondering if it’s now too late to sell “pink slime” to diners. Last week, the Agriculture Department said schools can opt-out of using meat with the filler in it. Since then, three of four Beef Products plants have closed and companies and organizations, from supermarkets to fast food companies to many of the nation’s schools, have decided to pull items containing the product. Lean finely textured beef has been on shelves since the 1990s.

The company took out an ad in the Wall Street Journal last week and has now come forward with responses to concerns, stating that it’s beef, plain and simple, so bon appétit. Even politicians are getting involved to protect the related industries in their states.

But it’s really a mental thing, a leap to big for the dining public to manage. You can’t un-ring the bell of “pink slime.”

“Whether or not the product can be considered nutritious, it has become clear in the past few weeks that there’s a lot we don’t know about how processed food is made,” says NPR. And the more we know, the more we crave a salad.

[image: Lean finely textured beef. Photo: AP, Beef Products Inc]