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State Beef Officials Shun "Pink Slime" Controversy

Last updated on Friday, March 9, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - An ABC News report detailing a former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist’s claim that so-called “pink slime” is in 70 percent of grocery store ground beef is raising concerns among consumers.

In the ABC report, Gerald Zirnstein claimed beef trimmings are added as a cheap filler to ground beef.

Zirnstein claimed that beef suppliers are adding pink slime, which he described as simmered waste trimmings sprayed with ammonia to kill bacteria, to the beef mixture as a way of adding to profits.

While the additive is safe to consume, the ABC report found that a manufacturer appointed a former USDA undersecretary who had approved the use of pink slime to its board of directors.

Joe Moore, executive director of the Indiana Beef Council, said he's taking issue with the controversy.

"It's not slime. It's beef. It's frozen beef," Moore said. "I don't know what pink slime is, but lean beef trimmings is a process by which a small puff of ammonia hydroxide gas is entered into beef trimmings. It basically separates the lean meat from the fat."

Moore said the 100 percent lean meat is frozen in blocks and mixed into ground beef to get the percentage of lean printed on store labels.

"If I have a batch of beef that's 70 percent lean and I want to bring it up to 80-percent lean, I can calculate how much of 100 percent lean to add to it to bring it up to an 80/20 mix," he said.

Moore said the "perfectly healthy" process has been going on for years and is approved by the USDA.

"I don't understand how this could be filler. For it to be a filler, it would be like using cereal in meat. This actually meat," he said. "We have the safest beef supply in the world. I feed it to my family, and it's safe for your family."

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