What’s Pink Slime and what are our stores saying about it?

(Image credit – note, I chose this image for “ground beef,” it may or may not contain pink slime. ;) )

There has been a lot of news and public outcry lately about finely textured beef (aka “pink slime”). In case you’re unaware, finely textured beef is made from the trimmings or leftovers of beef and then has ammonia added to kill any bacteria. It’s then added as a cheap filler to beef products – ground beef in particular. Yum, right?!

And while I don’t usually share stories like these, I feel this one is important because it’s one of the first times I can remember seeing the public react and then watching stores – major national chains – respond so quickly and strongly. It’s a good reminder that as consumers we do have a voice. It is a start in the right direction.

A few sites have listed grocery stores that contain the pink slime and as a result, many stores are making public statements via news outlets and their social media sites. Here are a few I’ve collected in the past couple days:

Albertsons:

The link they’ve referenced is HERE. Please note that this statement is true of ALL Supervalu stores (which also includes ACME, Jewel Osco, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Lucky, Hornbacher, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save, and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy), per my PR contact.

Safeway:

“Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef.”

News source found HERE. This is also the case for Safeway’s sister stores, (Genuradi’s and Dominicks).

QFC (a Kroger store):

Fred Meyer (a Kroger store; left in response to a Facebook question):

Kroger:

“Our customers have expressed their concerns that the use of lean finely textured beef — while fully approved by the USDA for safety and quality — is something they do not want in their ground beef,” Kroger said in a statement. “As a result, Kroger will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef.”

News source and quote taken from HERE.

UPDATED TO ADD – Zaycon Foods: 

I also want to point out that if your ground beef is labeled certified organic, you can rest easy. It doesn’t contain the filler. Ground beef purchased from Costco, HEB, Whole Foods and Publix is also pink slime free (source: ABC).

Pink Slime in School Lunch Programs

Apparently, it’s been difficult for schools to know if the unfortunate filler has made its way into lunch programs. But starting this fall, they will disclose that information to schools which means that schools will have the ability to “opt out” of receiving it. I left a message on the Facebook page of our school district and was delighted to hear they’ve decided to opt out of having it next year!

If this is an issue that concerns you, I encourage you to reach out to your school district.

Pink Slime in Restaurants

As you might imagine, pink slime may be in many fast food products due in part to its cheapness and abundance. But this article stated that McDonald’s officially stopped including it in August of last year, thanks in part to Mr. Oliver’s efforts.

This article adds Taco Bell and Burger King to the list of fast food restaurants that are pink slime free. You may wish to inquire at your favorite restaurants if it’s carried or not…or hey, avoid them altogether and chug a green smoothie.

Final Thoughts

I understand that this may not be a concern for everyone. But for some of us, it is. I am getting more and more comments – on a near daily basis now – from readers saying that they are looking to eat cleaner and make better food choices. Just having the USDA approve something may not be enough to alleviate your concerns. I get that.

I would love to know what you’ve decided to do, if anything, about pink slime. Will it alter where you buy your beef? Does it damage your perception of stores who will choose to continue to carry it?

Further Reading

To learn more about this topic, I’ve compiled a few articles for you:

Is Pink Slime in the Beef at your Grocery Store? (ABC)

‘Pink Slime’ Beef out at Safeway, Supervalu

National Grocers Stop Buying ‘Pink Slime’ Meat

‘Pink Slime’ on Wikipedia

Kroger, Stop & Shop join Pink Slime exodus


Comments

  1. Jana B says

    I saw an article from the Seattle PI recently that said that Zaycon Foods’ beef has pink slime. I find that hard to believe since they say it’s fresh, minimally processed, and no anitbiotics and other stuff. Have you heard anything about them?

      • Melinda says

        They have stated on their FB page that yes, the beef they were currently selling did contain a small percentage of LFTB in it. They said they would continue to sell that (although maybe will change their mind) but are also offering an alternative beef LFTB free.

  2. bduck says

    I never knew about “pink slime” until I saw the news reports. I am glad to see the major grocery stores will stop using it, but disheartened to know I have most likely purchased it, unknowingly, in the past. I would definitely go to a different store to purchase beef without “pink slime”. It now makes me mistrust the stores. Who knows what else they are passing off to us?

    • arussell says

      Also doesn’t make the USDA look any better whey what they consider to be “safe” and “quality,” does it?

      • Laurel T says

        Unfortunately you are spot on with that comment. Kind of makes me wonder what else has the USDA given their seal of approval that is “safe” but not good for you either!

        • arussell says

          Yes, totally. I’ve definitely grown more concerned in recent months about making smart food choices. I don’t trust the USDA to make them for me.

    • Melody says

      It’s scarier that the USDA is the one saying it is “safe”. The USDA also new about the applesauce that was being reprocessed and served in kids schools. I really don’t trust the USDA. Stores are going to sell whatever to make money.

  3. Sarah says

    It’s never good enough, in this household…to feed food that is “reasonably considered safe”. We buy only meat that is local, pasture raised, certified organic, grass-fed, etc. We buy in bulk from a local farm and the price is more affordable that way. We sacrifice in other ways to feed our family clean, healthy food. We don’t eat out. We cook all from scratch. The difference in the health of my children is amazing since making the switch.

  4. Michele A says

    I stopped eating ground beef (mostly) when I was pregnant eight years ago and the smell and appearance of the raw meat just made me sick. Then, last year I was watching the show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, where he was in California. DIS-GUST-ING!!! There was an episode where he demonstrated how pink slime is made. After that, I stopped eating ground beef completely, even if I didn’t see it raw :)

  5. connersoleil says

    I only buy organic meats and have in the past 6 months only buy organic ground turkey instead of beef. Do you know if this applies to organic ground beef/turkey (from Publix and kroger)?

    • Ali says

      Just because Costco says they don’t sell it, don’t be fooled, my friend… I am willing to bet they still sell the pink slime in canned chilis, canned soup, frozen food, etc.

  6. kristi gallimore says

    What scares me the most is… next fall, according to one of the stated articles, the schools will be given the option of buying slime free meat. REALLY? Where do you think all of the slime will go with no grocery stores are buying it??? kids

  7. kathy says

    Someone asked where the pink slime will go if it isn’t going to the grocery stores- It will go to feed prisoners and to food banks. My church gets food from these sources for our free community dinners. The quality is horrible! Sometimes I throw it away it’s so bad. Thinking back on some of the ground beef and ground turkey we’ve served, I’m certain it had a high percentage of slime. It was nasty to work with!
    However, on the other hand, with the exception of the added ammonia, pink slime is really not all that different from boiling down a carcass to make soup from the left overs. You scoop out the solids, go through them to pick out the meat and throw the rest away. Once you add ammonia it all changes though.

  8. Melody says

    This is a bit of old news. I wonder why it is suddenly so big. Glad it is and they are making changes. We had watched a documentary a while back about the meat industry and saw that they routinely washed ground beef additives with ammonia. Then we saw Jamie Oliver talking about it on his t.v. show. After the documentary, we immediately quite buying ground beef and now just buy regular cuts of beef and grind our own ground beef. That way, we know what is in it. You still don’t really know what junk (filler) they are throwing in it at the stores. This way, we know what is in it. It is unfortunate, that many of the schools feed so much garbage to our children, a lot in part to the USDA.

    • arussell says

      From what I could tell – and I could very well be wrong! – it sounds like there was a piece on ABC or another major news outlet recently. Perhaps this triggered the strong reaction?

      Anyone know for sure?

  9. Maura L. says

    No pink slime in this household! We eat only organic hamburger from Costco. It is only $4.50 per lb. You purchase 4 lbs at a time

    I know Winco sells the pink slime as I have seen their boxes from BPI (the slime producer) while they are stocking their selves.

    I really hope the pink slime is a wake-up call to Americans. This is a small issue compared to the poultry and pork industries! Hopefully a major news network shows the public those industries.

  10. Tera says

    We’ve been watching food documentaries on Netflix and it’s changed A LOT of things we’d been buying at the store. When I saw about the ground beef I gagged! We actually haven’t bought ground beef in over a year, just used ground turkey. We’re working our way through what’s in our freezer and we’re switching to all organic meats. We’ve been eating organic chicken for quite awhile. We will likely buy ground beef from a local butcher. I don’t know if it’s organic or not, but it’s humanely raised, with nothing “extra” added to it and that’s what’s most important to us!

  11. says

    Our school district’s Director of Food services spoke about pink slime at a meeting I attended tonight and he confirmed that none of the beef served in our district or any other district in Washington State contains pink slime. That’s comforting if you have school age children that eat hot lunch!

  12. says

    I don’t want to come off as being rude or anything when I write this. I should also state that I work in beef sales. But LFTB is meat trimmings. It’s not pieces that have been on the floor or anything (Ive heard people saying this). If it was non edible products, it wouldn’t be used in foods.
    Also, there was a picture of “pink slime” that the news was calling LFTB. In fact, that picture was not even beef, it was chicken.
    I guess we have two choices, we can buy the same meat that we’ve been buying. Or you can buy the non LFTB meat which is now being produced but you are def going to see an increase in price. It just frustrates me how the media gets a hold of something that is safe and legal and puts an emotional spin on it.

    • Sarah says

      Kind of how I feel. If people are going to buy meat from sickly animals raised in a cramped feedlot and fed an unnatural (to cattle) grain diet…that shouldn’t get all wigged out about the “pink slime”. If people truly cared where their meat came from… They’d buy local, pasture raised, grass fed beef.

      • says

        I agree. I have no problem with natural, organic meat. My company produces some. But I know the price is quite a bit higher and I can’t afford to buy it all the time. But I like there is the option if I want to use.
        There is so much food that is processed or that has chemicals added to it. I guess if people are going to freak about what’s added to their meat, maybe they should take a look at what else is in their fridges or cupboards.

        • Ali says

          I am against the entire “factory farming” industry…pink slime and all! This should be a wake up call to Americans about the factory farming industry, not just pink slime. The solution is simple – stop buying meat that is produced by factory farms. Yes, organic costs more, but we can afford it.

          Buying organic is a huge sacrifice to the family budget, but one that is worth it for our health. I’d rather continue to go without cable, a cell phone, a 2nd car, and other luxuries long before I’d buy food from factory farms.

          I buy appx 80% organic food, cook our meals from scratch, and only spend about $400 a month for food for our family of 5. We don’t buy anything though like soda, candy, chips, crackers, etc. We stick to essentials – meat, lots of veggies and fruits, dairy, grains, beans, rice, etc.

    • arussell says

      The issue, as I see it, is two fold: 1) that the trimmings test positive for e. coli and other harmful bacteria and 2) that they are treated with ammonia.

      I think that pink slime may be one of those hairs that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. For the last few years, the public has been hearing about stuff like trans fat, HFCS, and GMOS. I think there are a lot of folks out there really skeptical and frustrated about what we’ve been fed.

      And look at us – our rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are through the roof. Clearly, something is broken.

      • says

        True, I totally understand your point. I’m probably worked up about bc it affects me on a different level then most, considering I work in the meat industry. It’s hard to sit here and hear all these things (not on your site but in the news) that are not true or that are spun to create fear.
        The trim that we use/sell is tested for things like that and is not sold until the test comes back. Then, for each order, our plants will send a letter saying that it tested negative. I’m not saying our competitors don’t do the same, I’m not sure what they do.
        I do agree that has a country, we should be concerned about what we eat, how it’s made and so on. Maybe this will be a wake up call to food producers to disclose how food is made and to consumers to be more informed.

    • Melody says

      The whole washing in ammonia is not something I want to feed my family. That is why we buy organic and grind our own meat so we KNOW what tidbits and washings are going into it. I think that our health is more important than paying for cheap meat. I don’t think it is about playing on peoples emotions, but informing the consumer of what is going into their mouths. It is about time the media has actually put this out there. Documentaries have put this information out there along time ago. Consumers should be informed.

      • says

        It is actually a “puff” of ammonia and the same process is actually used in lots of processed foods. It also prevents E.Coli and salmonella. LFTB is not treated for those. It is just a way to make our ground beef safer. BPI has been making this product for 30 years and have yet to have a recall, unlike other ground beef producers. People have been concerned that it was not on the label or about false advertising of “100 % real beef” It doesn’t have to be added to the label because it IS 100% real beef.

        • arussell says

          Sounds like another reasonn to not eat processed foods then….yikes. :(

          In all sincerity Michelle, I’ve been following your comments here – and while I’ve not commented on every one, I wanted to thank you for taking time out to add a different voice and POV to this conversation.

  13. Ali says

    “White sludge” is just as bad for you. That is the chicken equivalent of beef’s pink slime.

    What gets me the most angry about this is not the fact that BPI gets away with claiming this is 100% beef.

  14. Debbie says

    It is really interesting how this story just broke suddenly because this has been known about for some time. I remember seeing it in the Food, Inc. documentary. We have bought organic or grass fed ever since and will as long as we can afford to. I just don’t understand what triggered this to become national news and the stores to respond so quickly when they don’t seem to respond to much else like no GMO, etc. Can we trust them to be telling us the truth now? What about everything else they have been selling? The last time I bought the organic ground beef from Costco was about 3 weeks ago, and then and the year or so prior to that it was one price and this week I bought some and it has increased $4!

  15. Marci V says

    I read your article last night and went to Fred Meyer (Kroger) today. All the previous “chubs” of ground beef were gone and replaced with Kroger “chubs” (ground beef in plastic roll). The meat was Kroger brand and ingredients listed as: ground beef. I think the package said 100% ground beef in big writing. My boys were running out of patience or I would have taken a picture.

  16. D'Anna says

    I do not eat meat products but my spouse and sons do and they don’t seem too upset by it. The journalist that broke the story could have picked “Finely Textured Beef Filler” but that isn’t as alarming as “Pink Slime” which shocks, grosses people out and gets mass media attention.

    After the mass panic over the E-Coli outbreaks I could see where adding ammonia to ground beef could prevent it from happening, is that the reason behind it? I’m not real clear on the logistics.

  17. Michelle says

    Yes, that is the reason behind it. BPI, the company that produces it, has been doing so for I believe for 20 yrs. Also, there are other companies that produce or use it in their ground beef. The process is safe and it’s actually lowering the chance for e. coli. But the media has totally spun it.
    I just got done reading an article on how ABC is still playing off it while other networks have only mentioned a few times. ABC also keeps using the term “Pink Slime” over and over and over.
    Just be prepared to pay a much higher price on your ground beef. Its not as simple as the stores not buying it. It’s also about the manufacturing changes, the up charge we have to charge our customers and how they are going to pass it on to the consumers.

  18. ksenia says

    I know i”m late in the conversation, but I find the whole thing somewhat comical. The pink slime is gross, but it is only one of the hundreds of examples of the gross things that are done to the food in this country (and others). People need to not be so naive and trust USDA and large food corporations. Go to a local farm, watch them do their work, then buy their meat or veggies. I am disgusted by what we, as a society, sometimes choose eat. Unfortunately the population that penny pinches on food is very susceptible to these kinds of wake up calls. Sure, save when you can, but paying your farmer now is going to cost much less than paying a doctor for decades to come. Eat fresh, local, and organic whenever possible. If you can’t afford to eat organic, local meat every day, cut back on meat so that you can!

    • arussell says

      And if you’ve been following me, Ksenia? You’ll know that I’ve personally gone off meat and dairy for the past couple months and dropped almost 20 pounds (and all while sticking to our budget). Please be careful to not to judge “penny pinchers” as those that don’t care about health too. Please go back and check out my vegan posts if you’re curious to learn more about what I’ve been doing. ;)

      • says

        Angela, I like how you have made your decision based on other facts and before this scare came out. I completely understand wanting to know how and where your food comes from. It’s the people who have suddenly made the change after hearing only one side of the story who frustrate me.
        A lot has been going on. We had government officials in our area touring the plant (the only 1 out of 4 that is still open due to this nonsense). We’ve also had USDA officials and a food safety watch group all say this is healthy and even healthier than what the other option is. Joe Avila, the ABC news correspondent who broke the story and he didn’t seem to have much to say after seeing what LFTB is and how it’s made. The lean trimmings are the trimmings that come off the same pieces that are used to cut into ribeyes and roasts. As the meat goes down the line, workes trim the meat pieces to me our spec, those beef trimmings are then made into LFTB. Now, since a lot of of stores won’t carry it, the ground beef they will carry will actually be fattier. I only hope in time this nonsense will pass and BPI, who has an unsurpassed record of no deaths and illnesses from their products, can gain back their business and production workers can get their jobs back. Otherwise, this is going to affect not only BPI, but all of us in the meat business and it won’t be for the better.

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