Some time back, the New York Times did a piece on ammonia being used to make meat and fat trimmings from the cutting room floor safe for human consumption. This ammonia treated meat, some call it "pink slime", is used in the manufacture of ground beef in the States. As I read the article I thought, "Is this stuff in Canadian ground beef?"
Add: This post has been hit thousands of times. It is time for an update. First, pink slime isn’t used in Canadian burgers – this is the word from Health Canada, which says it hasn’t ruled on the product because no one has asked.
The other name for this product is lean finely textured beef or LFTB. LFTB is made in Canada but it does not use ammonia gas for sterilizing the mix. Read the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations for FTB (Finely Textured Beef) or check the chart I've reproduced below
The American product, made with ammonia, may not be being used in Canada but Beef Products, Inc. states quite clearly on their Internet site: "Outside of the US, Beef Products' customers are located in Canada [bold type added], Mexico, and Japan." Maybe it is not the ammonia treated product that is being shipped north to Canada.
One must be careful what one says, especially when the stuff one is writing is being read in Canada, a country famous for "libel freeze" — the filing of libel lawsuits with the goal of silencing critics. As a retired senior I don't need the hassle.
Recently Jamie Oliver made public calls for fast food restaurants to abandon the use of "pink slime." Possibly because of his involvement and the accompanying publicity a number of fast food restaurants have stopped using the product.
A Huffington Post article reported:
McDonald's announced it is no longer using the controversial ground beef additive known as "pink slime" in its hamburger recipe. Taco Bell and Burger King have also reportedly dropped the "slime" from the menu.
So, what else can I add as an update to this post? Well, read what BPI says on its own website. This info refers to meat sold in the States, of course, and not Canada.
"Beef Products, Inc. [is] the world's leading manufacturer of boneless lean beef. . . . "BPI's products are found in the majority of all ground beef produced in the United States. Current production of over 7 million pounds per week, makes BPI the world's largest manufacturer of boneless lean beef in the world. Eating a hamburger from a Quick Service Restaurant or buying ground beef from your local retailer, the chances are you'll be eating product produced by BPI."
Now, read the company description on Hoovers:
"Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) has ground beef down to a science. A top US provider of boneless lean beef, the company grinds more than seven million pounds of meat a week. Its customers include fast-food chains, restaurants, foodservice operators, meat packers, food processors, and the USDA's school lunch program. Its 60-pound blocks of frozen meat chips are used in hamburger patties, ground beef, hot dogs, beef snacks lunch meat, sausages, meatballs, and frozen entrees. The company touts food safety as a priority. It uses two metal detectors to scan beef before and after processing at its Sioux City, Iowa, manufacturing facility. Outside of the US, Beef Products' customers are located in Canada [bold type added], Mexico, and Japan."
Finally, is there any evidence that ammonia is still playing a role in the production of BPI "boneless lean beef"? The BPI site itself make direct reference to the use of ammonia in the production of their popular product. BPI has an entire section of their online site dedicated to "The use of ammonia compounds in food processing." I had a link to a Canadian producer who used citric acid but the link is now broken.
My wife has stopped buying ground beef. She buys large, intact cuts of beef and grinds them herself, with my assistance. It is easy to do, quick and the final ground beef tastes much better than what we had been buying. Plus, it saves us money! The large cuts of beef sell, on sale, for less than ready-to-use ground beef.