The media created outcry regarding “pink slime” begs the question about what other commonly eaten foods, such as hot dogs, contain in the United States.
Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) is the beef processing plant which is under fire for its product called Lean Finely Trimmed Beef (LFTB) — beef scrapped from beef bones which don’t make the first cut of premium beef. LFTB is what is now famously known as pink slime.
On the other hand there are hot dogs.
A United States Department of Agriculture report defines what meat is in a 1994 report about hot dogs.
According to the USDA, hot dog meat is derived by advanced meat recovery machinery that “separates meat from bone by scraping, shaving, or pressing the meat from the bone without breaking or grinding the bone. Product produced by advanced meat recovery (AMR) machinery can be labeled using terms associated with hand-deboned product (e.g., “pork trimmings” and “ground pork”).”
The report goes on to describe mechanically separated meat as “a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue.”
A Scientific American report describes the ingredients in “Ball Park Franks” that include what is known as “mechanically separated poultry” which includes turkey, chicken, and pork, beef stock (the USDA does not allow “mechanically separated beef” in any products), water, corn syrup, salt, potassium lactates, sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, maltodextrin, sodium nitrate, and extractives of paprika.
The additives mentioned above in hot dogs, such as the sodium products, are there to help kill botulism, fungus and bacterial growth, the report says.
The USDA says, “Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since the late 1960’s. In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe and could be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the product’s ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996. Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.”
Basically, chicken, turkey and pork carcasses, the stuff that doesn’t make the first premium cut, no pun intended, are what make up hot dogs. The carcasses are filtered in the high pressure machines which remove every “edible” tissue scrap that will make it to your barbecue this summer.
The most commonly known term for mechanically separated poultry is “chicken nuggets”.
Pink slime on the other hand is the non-prime cut of beef carcasses, but it cannot be processed in the same high pressure techniques approved for dead turkey, chicken or pig, and it contains ammonium hydroxide, an ingredient that has created the media sensation, but is used to kill E. coli and salmonella.
The USDA reports the reason the same process for beef is not acceptable is to “protect consumers against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad-cow disease), mechanically separated beef is considered inedible and prohibited for use as human food.”
Pink slime is a result of a process that removes the fat from the bits of meat by heating the bones and meat to 100 degrees and spinning the bone at a high speed which separates the meat and the fat.
Today, just about every media outlet in the country is reporting that various schools and grocery store chains are dropping pink slime from their offerings.
Don’t forget the ketchup and mustard.