BURGER CHAINS DROP USE OF CHEMICAL IN BURGERS CALLED
December 26, 2011
(NATIONAL) -- McDonald’s and two other fast-food chains have stopped using an ammonia-treated burger ingredient that meat industry critics call the “pink slime,” according to a report in the Sioux Falls, Argus Leader here
Ammonium hydroxide. No longer used in the hamburgers of several large fast food chains.
The product, ammonium hydroxide, is widely used as low-fat beef filling in burger meat, including in school meals.
But there have been attacks on its use by consumer food activists and high profile chefs such as Jamie Oliver who said, “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold at the cheapest form for dogs, and after this process we can give it to humans,” in a segment of his ABC television show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, that aired last spring.
A 2009 New York Times story raised questions about the safety of the ammonium hydroxide product, citing government and industry records of E. coli and salmonella contamination of meat sold for school lunches. That article also included a quote from an email in which an Agriculture Department microbiologist called the pale-colored product “pink slime,” a term critics grabbed onto.
McDonald’s has now been joined by Taco Bell and Burger King in discontinuing use of the product.
Critics of the use of such products in the meat industry say it raises serious questions about whether the huge factory farm and processing operations are relying too heavily on “chemical washes and other technology” to kill bacteria that is so prevalent because of the practices of that industry instead of doing more to prevent the contamination at the source by changing how animals are raised and slaughtered in the big meat processing plants.
The report says “cattle producers have resisted responsibility for preventing bacteria from getting into their animals. The microbes dangerous to humans often are harmless to the animals.”
THE DARK SIDE OF MEAT PACKING INDUSTRY
In the book, later turned into a documentary film called Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2001) investigative journalist Eric Schlosser took a close look at the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry.
Part of the book deals with his probe into the meat packing industry.
He found the industry was dominated by casual, easily exploited immigrant labor and that levels of injury were among the highest of any occupation in the United States.
Schlosser discusses his findings on two meat-packing companies and recounts the steps involved in meat processing.
In that process he noted several hazardous practices unknown to many consumers, such as the practice of rendering dead pigs, horses and chicken manure into cattle feed at that time.
He noted that such practices were responsible for the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, aka Mad Cow Disease), as well as for introducing harmful bacteria into the food supply, such as E. coli O157:H7.
In later editions, Schlosser provided an additional section that included reviews of his book, counters to critics who emerged since its first edition, and discussion of the effect that the threat of BSE had on US Federal Government policy towards cattle farming. He concluded that, given the swift, decisive and effective action that took place as a result of this interest and intervention, many of the problems documented in the book are solvable, given enough political will.
UNDERCOVER VIDEO PROMPTS RECALL OF MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF BEEF
A Feb. 2008 report by ABC news noted that “fallout from the dramatic and disturbing undercover video, of sick cows in a meat processing plant, continued Monday, as school districts across the country scrambled to destroy beef from the Hallmark/Westland meat packing company in California.”
That recall came about after the government confirmed that so-called "downer cows" — those so injured or sick, that they can't stand up — were processed and entered into the nation's food supply.
A USDA veterinarian is supposed to check each downer cow and make sure it's not diseased, but the report said “ that hasn't happened, according to the person who shot the incriminating undercover footage for the Humane Society.”
The report noted that the, "USDA's meat inspection program is over 100 years old, and, clearly, it is not working effectively to protect the public," Caroline Smith DeWaal, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said.