Animal scientist Temple Grandin supports ‘pink slime’


Without "lean finely textured beef,” says Temple Grandin, major cattle producers might as well take a "truckload of cattle and say, 'We're just going to throw these cattle in the garbage.' " (Nati Harnik, File/Associated Press)

“I only like to talk about things that I know about,” Grandin said, explaining her silence during a Wednesday phone interview with All We Can Eat.

Well, Grandin has since educated herself, and she’s clearly in support of pink slime, the pejorative term to describe carcass trimmings that are heated, run through a centrifuge (to remove fat) and treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens. To Grandin, it’s all about waste.

“It should be on the market. It should be labeled,” she says of the meat filler. “We should not be throwing away that much beef.”


Temple Grandin says the beef industry needs to better educate the public about pink slime. (By Rosalie Winard)

To be fair, others have suggested that eliminating pink slime might be bad for business, human health and the environment. (It certainly didn’t do much good for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, either.)

Grandin thinks the beef industry responded poorly to the pink slime crisis and has paid a high price for it: Beef Products Inc., the maker of the filler, has closed three plants and laid off hundreds of employees. Grandin ultimately thinks the industry will recover and probably find a spot in the marketplace again for the controversial product. One way to gain favor with the public, Grandin says, is to dump the ammonia in favor of a citric-acid treatment: “People like the idea of lemon juice more than they like the idea of ammonia.”

She also thinks the beef industry needs to post online videos to show exactly how the manufacturing process works, so it won’t seem so mysterious and, well, freaky. Grandin says consumers have learned how hot dogs are made, and it hasn’t killed off the frankfurter market.

Further reading:

* ‘Pink slime’ outrage goes viral in stunning display of social media’s power

* Man who coined ‘pink slime’ says it came to him in spur of the moment

* What ‘pink slime’ tells us about industrial food safety

* Could banning ‘pink slime’ be bad for the planet?

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.

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