In Defense of Pink Slime

March 12, 2012

Food Safety News just published an article on pink slime by Microbiologist Phyllis Entis that completely misses the point. Entis concludes:

In other words, it might have an image problem, but Lean Finely Textured Beef – aka ‘pink slime’ – is safe to eat.

“Safe to eat” is not what’s at issue here. And why is Entis so keen to attach a euphemism like “Lean Finely Textured Beef” to such a disgusting product?

The primary objection to pink slime has nothing to do with food safety; it has to do with the revolting production practices behind this product. When you start with a pile of meat scraps that are inordinately likely to contain dangerous fecal bacteria, then use a centrifuge to wring out bits of muscle from these scraps, and finally treat the tainted output with ammonia to kill off pathogens, you end up with a product that repels informed consumers.

Food safety is not the core objection to pink slime, and to suggest that it is is to argue in bad faith. Beef producers are delighted to talk about the lack of live pathogens in pink slime, especially if dwelling on this irrelevant point prevents a conversation about how this product is made. Link.

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