Do you want slime with your order?

Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

The majority of people ordering from a restaurant, believe they are choosing exactly what they want to consume; if they want a cheeseburger, then that’s what goes on their plate. Unfortunately, ordering a cheeseburger could also mean ordering an array of fillers and chemicals that aren’t mentioned on the menu.

Say hello to “pink slime,” a term coined by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in reference to a meat filler used in 70 percent of all ground beef sold in America.

The filler consists of cuts of beef no one would serve as an entree; rejected fatty, sinewy pieces of beef trim are ground into a mush which is then sprayed with a chemical called ammonium hydroxide (a fancy-shmancy name for watered-down ammonia) in order to kill E. coli and other bacteria.

The filler is then added to ground beef that gets shipped to fast food chains, restaurants and even school cafeterias. Strangely enough, the concoction was only used in dog food until 2001; now it’s being served to humans nationwide.

Apparently the mixture has been around for a long time; its use dates back to the mid-1970s when beef prices were at an all-time high, and pink slime was used to cut costs. However, its existence seems to have been under the radar until recently. In fact, many who work in the food service industry are unaware of pink slime, but those who are aware seem to believe something’s fishy in the beef industry.

Summer Hendricks, the Hardy Hall worker whose friendly face can usually be seen behind the exhibition center, had heard of pink slime but was skeptical of its purpose.

“The amount of ammonia that’s in it is supposedly safe for consumption, but in my personal opinion any kind of meat that has chemicals added to make it safe automatically negates the safety of it,” Hendricks said.

Mike Bell, retail manager of Sodexo (where Hardy Hall gets its food from), had only heard of pink slime on the news only recently.

So what’s the problem with pink slime other than its unappetizing nickname? The problem isn’t the filler; the problem is that pink slime is being used to treat a problem that could be fixed with a simple solution.

The cow used to make your hamburger was fed corn. Before World War II, this never would have occurred. Until that time, all cows were fed their natural diet of grass. Corn was used to feed cows when a surplus of corn was grown after the war. Once farmers and ranchers learned that a corn diet would make their cows fatter, more and more were fed corn, and by 2008 a corn diet was the norm.

So where’s the problem? Cows’ stomachs are designed to digest grass, not corn. Corn-fed cattle are prone to serious health problems such as bloat, ulcers, diarrhea, liver disease and a weakened immune system. In an attempt to fix these problems, cattle are continually fed antibiotics, which leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as E. coli, that gradually render modern medicine ineffective.

Research published in the  scientific journal Clinical Infectious Diseases stated, “Densely stocked industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics…(are) ideal breeding ground for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans.”

Bottom line: Cow gets sick, man eats cow, man gets sick.

Studies conducted by California State University claim that “grass-based diets elevate precursors for Vitamin A and E, as well as cancer fighting antioxidants such as glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity as compared to grain-fed contemporaries. Fat conscious consumers will also prefer the overall lower fat content of a grass-fed beef       product.”

Research done by Cornell University in the late 1990s also revealed that grass-fed cattle had much fewer E. coli than with a standard grain diet.

But instead of feeding cows grass, a solution that would eliminate the need for ammonium hydroxide in beef as well as improve the health of cows and humans, our beef is getting sprayed with chemicals to cover up mistakes that the beef industry made many years ago.

Why? To save money. Corn is cheap, beef is in high demand and ammonium hydroxide works as duct tape over a huge leak in the system. But would the beef industry really put profits before people?

Coordinator of Health Services Debbie Rosenberger said, “I know the FDA has approved it. I can’t imagine that they would be letting our children eat something unhealthy. However, money talks.”


Author: Lauren Jones

Share This Post On


Commenting Policy
We welcome your comments on news and opinions articles, provided that they allowed by our Commenting Policy.