Imagine eating a big, juicy hamburger. Would you like some fries with that? How about ketchup? Oh, how about some pink slime?
Pink slime has been in the news a lot lately because it turns out that this processed meat filler is in lots of the ground beef (hamburger meat) eaten in America. You can figure out how it got its name.
And it turns out that the hamburgers lots of kids were eating in school cafeterias included the pink slime.
Last month the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that, as of this fall, the National School Lunch Program will allow districts to choose ground beef that does not contain the product. Previously, it was difficult for schools to know whether the beef they bought had it or not.
That’s because pink slime, which is cheap meat filler made from beef scraps, really is made from beef and therefore doesn’t need to be listed as a separate ingredient.
The more polite name for pink slime is “lean, finely textured beef,” and because there’s no way to tell from the label whether your hamburger meat has it, it was hard for people at the grocery store to know what they were buying.
But until recently, chances were pretty good that you were eating it. By some estimates, the slime was found in 70 percent of ground beef sold in supermarkets and in up to 25 percent of all hamburger patties eaten in the United States.
That may be changing soon, though, and not just for kids eating in school cafeterias. Because lots of people have been grossed out by the notion of eating pink slime in their burgers, Safeway and Giant recently announced that they will not keep pink-slime hamburger meat in their stores. Some other big grocery stores, including Costco and Whole Foods, have said that they never sold pink-slime burgers.
And despite how disgusting it is to think of eating pink slime, it’s important to note that U.S. health officials say there’s nothing harmful in the meat.