Back in 2012, carnivores around the globe were shaken by an ABC News investigation which revealed that 70% of ground beef in stores contained a filler colloquially known as “pink slime.” Basically, the slime is unwanted beef trimmings that are heated and separated in a centrifuge and then sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. After that, it is flash-frozen into cubes and shipped to meat producers to be used as an additive in ground beef to increase beef yields. The manufacturer, Beef Products Inc., called it “lean finely textured meat.”
Although the slime is USDA approved, the ABC News story sparked an explosion in social media backlash resulting in McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, and various public school cafeterias announcing their discontinued use of the slime. Soon after, BPI closed three of the four plants and the carnivores around the globe rested easy.
But many sources now fear that the slime is making a comeback. According to Time Magazine, BPI reopened one of the plants in August of this year. Production levels are nowhere near what they were in 2012 but they are steadily rising. As of August 2014, BPI was producing 1 million lbs. of the slime a week, compared to the 5.5 million lbs. in 2012.
Time attributes the rise in pink slime sales to the droughts in the cattle regions. Beef supply is down and prices are rising, so many processors are turning to “lean finely texturized meat” for a cheap alternative.
BPI and pink slime are nothing if not resilient. Although most fast food chains and some school cafeterias have stopped using pink slime in their dishes as of right now, there is still enough demand for the product to warrant the reopening of another BPI plant. So I advise you to educate yourself. Make sure you know where your beef is coming from and do not let monikers such as “lean finely texturized meat” convince you of a product’s legitimacy.