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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
You are what you eatPosted Monday, April 9, 2012, at 2:26 PM
Lean finely-textured beef (LFTB), lovingly referred to by critics as "pink slime," has created a slippery slope within the last few weeks as the general public has been (mis)informed about what's in their hamburgers.
Why the outcry now?
The filler, which is not legal in Canada or the UK, has been around since the early 2000s, when demand for lean meat led to advanced meat recovery. Packers saved money by using byproducts, such as meat and other tissues from the neck and spinal column bones that had previously been used in pet food and cooking oil.
Reports last month indicated 70 percent of ground beef sold in the U.S. contains LFTB.
Meat scraps are treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, then compressed and added to ground meat. Five years ago, the USDA decided that its disinfection process was successful and omitted the filler from routine testing.
Microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, who coined the term "pink slime," said, "I do not consider that stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling."
As a result of public outcry, BPI, one of the leading suppliers of ground beef, temporarily suspended production at three of its four plants, with 650 employees' jobs now in limbo. AFA Foods, another major ground beef supplier, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
Last week, Gov. Terry Branstad defended the product following a tour of a Nebraska packing plant. "It's clear this is a safe product," he said. "It's a lean product; it helps reduce obesity and there is a spurious attack being levied against it by some groups. You can suspect who they might be. They are people who don't like meat."
What's interesting is that BPI has donated $792,350 to Republican candidates in the past 10 years, with Branstad receiving $150,000 of the pie in the past two years. A bigger chunk of change, $500,000, was allocated to Iowa Republicans running for office.
Who are those people who "don't like meat"?
A WWII propaganda-esque poster, created by Fast Company Design, boldly declares "EAT MEAT AND DIE" in black, white and red.
"People think eating meat just kills animals," the poster reads. "But the truth is, it's also killing you."
Facts on the poster are pulled from a recent study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, which states excessive meat consumption can be deadly. Groundbreaking!
While the U.S. is only one-twentieth of the world's population, it consumes one-sixth of the world's meat: 55 percent red meat, 37 percent poultry and eight percent seafood. Per year, Americans consume 70 pounds of meat per person.
Not surprisingly, leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer, which the study suggests is linked to overconsumption of meat.
A serving of meat should be about three ounces, or the size of a deck of playing cards. Governmental guidelines suggest five to six and a half ounces per day, from a variety of protein sources, including poultry, seafood and nuts. The American Cancer Institute recommends no more than 18 ounces of red meat per week.
Fillers or no fillers, meat should be consumed in moderation.
And if you're concerned about what's in your meat, just ask the friendly meat counter clerks at Fareway or Hy-Vee. They can tell you within a few seconds where the meat came from, whether or not it contains fillers and offer alternatives if desired.
As health food nut Victor Lindlahar said in the late 1920s: "Ninety percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat."