Pink slime! A deliciously descriptive phrase which describes filler used in over 70 percent of all ground beef. The phrase was coined by Gerald Zirnstein, a former microbiologist working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The company that makes slime, Beef Products Incorporated (BPI) used to sell it for dog food filler. But why not expand the market and put it in ground beef? Let's see, we need a name the public will accept. How about "lean finely textured beef?" Great, now let's get approval by the USDA. No problem, it's pink isn't it and it comes from a cow? Yes, but it's not real red meat as we think of it. Its connective tissues, gristle, sinews, tendons, laced with ammonium hydroxide. Well, it comes from a cow and it's pink.
Joann Smith, undersecretary for the USDA granted approval. She then retired and took a seat on the Board of Directors of BPI. This raises an interesting question. Is the USDA working for the people or working for the corporate interests? The evidence shown by the pink slime revelation indicates they are on the side of the meat industry.
The USDA could require all ground meat to be labeled if it contains any additives, what they are, and the percentage per pound. This would give the public a choice.
Once again I want to thank Mr. Zirnstein for his wonderful descriptive phrase that revealed a practice about which the public was unaware.
Bob Van Velkinburgh