Gerald Zirnstein grinds his own hamburger these days. Why? Because this former United States Department of Agriculture scientist and, now, whistleblower, knows that 70 percent of the ground beef we buy at the supermarket contains something he calls “pink slime.”
“Pink slime” is beef trimmings. 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.
It was Zirnstein who, in an USDA memo, first coined the term “pink slime” and is now coming forward to say he won’t buy it and that “It’s economic fraud. It’s not fresh ground beef. … It’s a cheap substitute being added in.” Zirnstein and his fellow USDA scientist, Carl Custer, both warned against using what the industry calls “lean finely textured beef,” widely known now as “pink slime,” but their government bosses overruled them. According to Custer, the product is not really beef, but “a salvage product … fat that had been heated at a low temperature and the excess fat spun out.”
The “pink slime” is made by gathering waste trimmings, simmering them at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spinning the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. The process is completed by packaging the meat into bricks. Then, it is frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef. The “pink slime” does not have to appear on the label because, over objections of its own scientists, USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled it meat.
“The under secretary said, ‘it’s pink, therefore it’s meat,’” Custer once told ABC News in an interview. And the woman who made the decision to OK the mix is a former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. It was a call that led to hundred of millions of dollars for Beef Products Inc., the makers of pink slime. When Smith stepped down from the USDA in 1993, BPI’s principal major supplier appointed her to its board of directors, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years.
To know what you are cooking and consuming: Buy Locally Sourced Meat!
References: ABC NEWS
Have you ever wondered what chicken nuggets and chicken patties are made from? Well wonder no more! And say hello to mechanically separated chicken!
What is Mechanically Separated chicken you ask? It is where chicken is smashed and pressed through a sieve. But wait there is more… mechanically separated meat is a paste-like or batter-like meat product created by forcing unstrapped bones under high pressure through a type of sieve to separate edible meat tissue (including tendons and muscle fiber) from the bones. Although beef producers commonly treat meat products with small amounts of ammonium hydroxide as an anti-microbial agent, meat and poultry processors do not routinely soak mechanically separated meat or MSM in ammonia.
MSM is typically used in cheaper meat products, such as hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and frozen dinners, which need not retain the appearance, shape, or texture of “regular” meat. In order to satisfy consumer preferences, food producers may utilize additives in MSM-derived products to alter their color, taste, and texture.
According to the USDA, MSM is safe to eat and may be used without restriction, however in commercial food products it must be labeled as such:
“Mechanically separated poultry is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since the late 1960’s. In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said that it was safe and could be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the products ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996. Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.”
Due to FSIS regulations enacted in 2004 to protect consumers against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, mechanically separated beef is considered inedible and is prohibited for use as human food. It is not permitted in hot dogs or any other processed product.
Today there are several ways to evaluate one's risk for a stroke. One of the most frequesntly used is to undergo a sonogram that measures carotid artery thickness. When there is excess occlusion detected a risky surgical procedure called a carotid endarterectomy is performed to help restore blood flow to the brain.
In a study published by the American Heart Association in April of 2004, sonograms were used to measure the carotid intima-media thickness in 195 independently living elderly men in 1996 and again in 200. The researchers also measured blood levels of free testosterone in these men. The results showed that men with low testosterone had a 3.57 times greater progression of carotid intima-media thickening that those with higher testosterone levels.
These associations were independent of body mass index, waist to hip ratio, hypertension, diabetes, smoking and serum cholesterol levels.
The doctors concluded:
"Low free testosterone levels were related to intima-media thickening of the common carotid artery in elderly men independently of cardiovascular risk factors."