Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The topic of pink slime doesn't belong in a food toxicology lecture.

You never know when you will need to be an advocate for the Agriculture industry, but today I had the opportunity to share my knowledge in my toxicology class. Food toxicology was the lecture topic discussed today. There were several things brought up with food production processes; which included the topic of pink slime, the use of hormones in food animals, food borne illnesses, food handling practices, transgenic foods, the carcinogenic agent found in charred meat that has been barbequed, and food allergies.

All of these issues are related to Agriculture and my feathers were ruffled when misinformation was being presented to the class. When the use of hormones in meat was brought up I addressed the class and tried to convey that beef animals are not constantly pumped with steroids to produce an animal that contains the most amount of meat possible. I'm not sure the points I made during the lecture sunk in with the professor, but I visited with him after class and did my best to provide him with factual information about one of the topics discussed and that was the issue of pink slime. He thought my points were valid and also agreed to listen to the facts I have about the other topics discussed at a later time. After listening to the facts I gave him, he is now giving me 5 minutes of the next class lecture to discuss the process of pink slime with my classmates.

I'm excited about the opportunity to share my passion for Agriculture with my classmates, and set the record straight about this topic. I'm not entirely confident I can cover all of the important points in five minutes, but I'm going to try.

In the past few weeks we have been bombarded with the issue of pink slime in the media. This topic has left many consumers wondering if the ground beef product they purchase at the store is safe and what the process actually entails.

I will provide a few quick facts about this product and some links from fellow bloggers and other resources to give you additional information.
  • The title of "Pink Slime" is the name the media has given to this product to make it seem unappealing to the consumer. The actual name of this product is lean finely textured beef (LFTB).
  • LFTB is a safe, and nutritious product.
  • This product is not a "filler" it is 100% beef.
  • It is not a "waste" product or what would be sent to a dog food processing plant. LFTB is the trimmings from cuts of roasts, steaks, and other cuts.
  • The process of obtaining the LFTB involves putting the trimmings in a centrifuge, heating it and spinning it to separate the fat from the meat.
  • The process of centrifugation changes the texture of the beef and results in a product that resembles finely ground beef.
  • The resultant product is 95% lean.
  • LFTB is treated with either citric acid or ammonia hydroxide to reduce the pH of the meat to inhibit bacterial growth. This technique is used in several other food manufacturing processes and it involves using a fine mist of ammonia hydroxide. The meat is not soaked in household ammonia as the media would have you believe.
  • If LFTB is not used then 13 pounds of meat from each beef carcass will be wasted.
  • If LFTB is removed entirely from our ground beef supply, then we will need an additional 1.5 million head of cattle to keep up with our demand for ground beef.

This video from the American Meat Institute gives the consumer the facts about LFTB.

I learned a lot more about this process by doing a small amount of research. It takes very little effort to find out the facts about food processes and where your food comes from. I encourage you to seek out this information, find the facts and start conversations with the people who actually produce your food. Producers want to bridge the gap between the farm and your fork, and we are more than willing to help you become a more educated consumer. The important thing to remember is that you do have a choice when it comes to purchasing your beef. You can buy it directly from the producer, it can be natural, organic, grass fed, conventionally raised, and now due to the inaccurate representation of LFTB in the media you can purchase your ground beef without it.

After doing all of this research I can say with 100% confidence that pink slime is not a topic of discussion for a food toxicology lecture. I will be presenting these facts and more to set the record straight on LFTB to my class on Wednesday. I would appreciate any additional information and facts you may have on this topic that I can include in this discussion.

The information from this post was found from several of the links below. If you would like additional information on this topic please visit these sites to learn more.

For a more detailed post about the process of obtaining LFTB visit the Food for Thought Blog.

An article from USA Today

An article from Times Record News

Posts from Crystal Cattle

Posts from Buzzard's Beat

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