The Amateur Food Detective

The Amateur Food Detective
Bluebird Acres Farm in Friendship, NY

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's the Beef with Beef?

Ah, yes. Dr. Oz found another food for us to panic over. I don't mean to belittle his efforts. It's important that someone open up our eyes to what we're consuming. The problem is that now we're playing a game of telephone, and no one knows what's true and what's false. So here I am, once more, to bring you the information I've painstakingly researched, and again it is up to you to decide what you feel is safe for your family's dinner table.

First off, in case you don't know the terminology, LFTB stands for Lean Finely Textured Beef. It's the mainstay of the controversy. What is it, exactly? Some people have nicknamed it "pink slime," but from what I understand it's the trimmings of beef that include some fat and portions of beef that have been trimmed from the animal so that the beef cut has a desired shape and consistency. These trimmings are then heated to 100 degrees and the fat liquefied and drained from the beef. This leaner beef may be added to other ground beef and processed into hamburger.

So what's the problem?

The issue is the way the lean beef is treated. A "puff" of ammonium hydroxide gas is used to destroy bacteria on the trimmings after it's separated from the fat. The type that's used for the beef is not the same as your everyday household cleaner. It's been declared safe by the FDA since 1974. The argument for this being safe is that ammonia is a natural substance that is produced in animal and plant products as well as in humans. Yet, it sounds like an additive, and that alone may raise hairs. Supposedly, the gas evaporates from the meat, so it can't be considered an additive because it's not actually added to the beef. The argument for using it is that it prohibits bacteria from forming, therefore making the meat safer for consumption.

What does this mean for the consumer?

Well, if you watch video on "pink slime," you'll see the trimmings being processed and to be honest, mushy meat looks gross. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much of a problem. Oh, except for the cattle. You see, now that fast food and grocery chains have pulled back from using LFTB thanks to consumer backlash, more cattle have had to be slaughtered to fill the demand. Apparently trimmings filled in enough meat to save some bovine lives. Alternately, some of this beef will be higher in fat because the trimmings helped make the meat leaner.

I do not consume beef. For me it's a health issue because of my cholesterol, and to be honest, I was never a hamburger fan. Veggie burgers are yummier in my opinion. I also don't cook burgers or steak for my family. half our meals are vegetarian by choice. But I still was disgusted when the news broke about pink slime and its supposed negative effects, which I still haven't yet found evidence of. If anyone finds proof that LFTB is a terrible thing, other than the look of it, please comment and let me know so I can adjust my opinion if need be. But at this time I don't see what the beef is.


http://beefmagazine.com/beef-quality/what-lean-finely-textured-beef
http://www.fda.gov
http://news.msue.msu.edu/news/article/pink_slime_is_not_really_pink_slime


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for shedding some light on the subject. I do enjoy a good burger or steak on occasion. It's easy to get all excited about the latest "did you know story." My "beef" is with the people who are on the "all natural" kick. Just because it came directly from nature doesn't mean that it's good for you. Last I heard hemlock is all natural but will kill when consumed in small quanities. There are a lot of things in nature that will make you sick if not down and out kill you. The media loves attention and by releasing a slanted story on something sensational are only confusing the public.

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  2. Good point, John! A long time ago, when researching facial moisturizer, I came upon a book that mentioned that a lot of the "all natural" products caused as many problems, if not more, more people then the synthetic ones. Why? Because sometimes putting acai berries (or whatever new fad comes out) is irritating to the skin. And yes, the media loves a good story. If you haven't gotten the chance yet, check out my ADHD post from 2010. Talk about reporters not doing their homework. Anyhow, thanks for reading!

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