Also a story on food fraud in US
Update added March 18 2012 At bottom of page.
By Jennifer Poole,
January 1, 2009
You’re not going to believe what millions of Americans have been eating the last few years (Thanks, Bush! Thanks meat industry lobbyists!).
You’re not going to believe what you’ve been eating the last few years (thanks, Bush! thanks meat industry lobbyists!) when you eat a McDonald’s burger (or the hamburger patties in kids’ school lunches) or buy conventional ground meat at your supermarket:
According to today’s New York Times, The “majority of hamburger” now sold in the U.S. now contains fatty slaughterhouse trimmings “the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil,” “typically including most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass” that contains “larger microbiological populations.”
This “nasty pink slime,” as one FDA microbiologist called it, is now wrung in a centrifuge to remove the fat, and then treated with AMMONIA to “retard spoilage,” and turned into “a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips”.
Thus saving THREE CENTS a pound off production costs. And making the company, Beef Products Inc., a fortune. $440 million/year in revenue. Ain’t that something?
- jennifer poole’s diary :: ::
And to emphasize: this pink slime isn’t just in fast food burgers or free lunches for poor kids:
With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.
Bush’s U.S.D.A. also allowed these “innovators” to get away with listing the ammonia as “a processing agent” instead of by name. And they also approved the processing method — and later exempted the hamburger from routine testing of meat sold to the general public — strictly based on the company’s claims of safety, which were not backed by any independent testing.
Because the ammonia taste was so bad (“It was frozen, but you could still smell ammonia,” said Dr. Charles Tant, a Georgia agriculture department official. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”) the company started using a less alkaline ammonia treatment, and now we know — thanks to testing done for the school lunch program — that the nasty stuff isn’t even reliably killing the pathogens.
But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.
In July, school lunch officials temporarily banned their hamburger makers from using meat from a Beef Products facility in Kansas because of salmonella — the third suspension in three years, records show. Yet the facility remained approved by the U.S.D.A. for other customers.
Presented by The Times with the school lunch test results, top [U.S.D.A.] department officials said they were not aware of what their colleagues in the lunch program had been finding for years.
The New York Times article today has a rather innocuous headline, “Safety of beef processing method is questioned.”
I’d say this quote from the U.S.D.A. department microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, who called the processed beef “pink slime” in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues, represents the situation better: “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”
I’ve been thinking about an action item on this issue, and I’ve got three ideas: a. write Michelle Obama through this web form: http://www.whitehouse.gov/… or snail mail: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500; 2. print out the NY Times article and give it to the manager of your local supermarket, and ask them if they sell any kind of ground beef that doesn’t contain this “pink slime” or if their butchers will grind meat fresh for you; 3. just stop buying the damned stuff altogether.
This rates right up there with feeding dead animals to cattle, pigs or any other animal. The Mad Cow problem a while back. Animals that are vegetarians, not meat eaters and at the time it was a ridiculous thing to do. Gee I wonder do they still do that?
Then there are all the antibiotics and hormones given to animals, most of which are not necessary. Now they put Ammonia in the meat. To gross.
That made money as well at the expense of the animals and consumers.
Ammonia is what was and probably used in wax stripping products for tile floors. I certainly would never eat the stuff. Very corrosive.
Maybe student all over the US should do like these two high school students did. Test for stuff in the food they eat. Seems the Government isn’t doing the job. What a fabulous learning experience for kids to boot.
So how many student’s are there in the US who could start testing on food for all sorts of things. Chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides or toxic stuff, like Ammonia?
Students use Guelph DNA tech to uncover food fraud
December 28, 2009
Two American high school students have used unique Canadian DNA technology to identify numerous mislabeled food products in New York City markets, deepening concerns over the widespread problem of fraudulence in the marketplace.
From mislabelled fish to cow’s milk being passed off as pricey sheep’s milk, the Grade 12 students said a high percentage of the foods they collected as samples were not what they were said to be.
Brenda Tan and Matt Cost of Trinity School in Manhattan gathered about 150 DNA samples from foods and objects in their homes and neighbourhood as part of a science project with Rockefeller University and the American Museum of Natural History.
Tan said they found that 11 of the 66 fish, prepackaged and other food products bought largely at neighbourhood markets were mislabelled.
That included a specialty sheep’s milk cheese that was actually made from cow’s milk, venison dog treats made of beef, and sturgeon caviar that was really Mississippi paddlefish.
“You should get what you pay for,” Cost said from New York before their findings are published in January’s edition of BioScience magazine.
“We don’t know where it occurs, but most of the mislabelling involves substitution of something less expensive or desirable, which suggests it’s done for profit.”
The students gathered the DNA samples in their apartments, supermarkets, their school and at fresh markets, finding that most of the hundreds of samples had detectable DNA even after being frozen, dry-cleaned or shipped thousands of kilometres.
They sent the samples to the natural history museum, which tapped into a databank of DNA bar codes that was pioneered by Canadian scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
The Consortium for the Bar Code of Life project involves identifying a particular DNA sequence in marine and animal life that is unique to the species. That allows scientists to accurately identify the species and create a so-called bar code of its DNA similar to the black and white stripes on store goods.
The students submitted usable DNA from 151 of 217 items, including dried soup mix, dog biscuits, beef jerky, horse manure from Central Park and a feather duster.
“I didn’t expect to find very much recognizable DNA, but it was astounding at the end of the project how much there is just lying around us,” said Cost, 18.
The teens say they have discovered a possible new species of cockroach, a long-legged centipede that originated in Europe and an oriental latrine fly considered an invasive species in the southern U.S.
“DNA is resilient and it’s everywhere and a great way to identify things in the 21st century,” said Tan. “I mean, 10 years ago I don’t think this would have been possible.”
Student project has wider applications
Bob Hanner, a biologist at Guelph who led the work on bar coding, praised the student project and said it shows the value of a technology that can be used to identify illicit goods at borders and track the spread of disease.
“It’s another good example of how DNA bar coding can be used to engage students in real science questions, particularly like the market substitution problem,” said Hanner, associate director of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network.
“It’s continuing evidence along the lines of some of our earlier work showing what a powerful tool bar coding is.”
The work follows up on the findings of two other Trinity School students in 2008, who found one-quarter of fish they bought at markets and restaurants in Manhattan was mislabelled.
Hanner said he’s working closely with the Food and Drug Administration in the States to develop bar coding into an acceptable regulatory tool.
But he says Canada has been slow to embrace the technology as a way to discover contraband, mislabelled goods and possibly poisonous products.
He said the FDA and other agencies are sending their research scientists to Guelph for training in using the technology, but that “so far we haven’t seen that kind of proactive development in Canada.”
The FDA has adopted it for fish identification and also used DNA bar coding to distinguish the seed pods of star anise from another identical herb that contains neurotoxins.
The U.S. Agriculture Department is also working on a global database of DNA bar codes for fruit flies to deal with horticultural pests, and lumber products to identify endangered timber products.
Hanner is hoping as the technology gains ground, research continues into its use and the databank of species grows, it could soon be used to check goods at ports of entry.
He said he can soon see a time when people will be able to use tabletop devices at border crossings, schools and government departments to quickly identify a plant or animal.
“What would be the Holy Grail for a number of these agencies is to be able to do onsite bar coding,” he said. “The technology exists. It just needs to be miniaturized.”
Mislabeling food is a crime. Fraud to say the least, but it also endangers the public at large. If you have an allergy to certain foods, this type of practice could kill you. That would be murder. It could cause major health problems even if you didn’t die. With Health Care being what it is in the US this should be a concern to all people.
Eating a product that has be mislabeled causing you to become ill and what if you are one of the 45 million who do not have Health Insurance.
Food safety in the US is a joke. So I do believe it is time for the kids to get together with their teachers and do testing as the Government really does little to protect them. The lives they save may be their own.
Critics of ‘pink slime’ meat gaining ground
March 15, 2012
ALBANY, N.Y. — “Pink slime” just went from a simmer to a boil. In less than a week earlier this month, the stomach-turning epithet for ammonia-treated ground beef filler suddenly became a potent rallying cry by activists fighting to ban the product from supermarket shelves and school lunch trays.
Though the term has been used pejoratively for at least several years, it wasn’t until last week that social media suddenly exploded with worry and an online petition seeking its ouster from schools lit up, quickly garnering hundreds of thousands of supporters.
“It sounds disgusting,” said food policy expert Marion Nestle, who notes that the unappetizing nickname made it easier for the food movement to flex its muscles over this cause.
“A lot of people have been writing about it. Therefore, more people know about it, therefore more people are queasy about it, particularly when you start thinking about how this stuff turns up in school lunches,” said Nestle, a professor at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health.
The controversy centres on “lean finely textured beef,” a low-cost ingredient in ground beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated to about 37 C (100 F) and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product, made by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc., also is exposed to “a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas” to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.
There are no precise numbers on how prevalent the product is and it does not have to be labelled as an ingredient. Past estimates have ranged as high as 70 per cent; one industry officials estimates it is in at least half of the ground meat and burgers in the United States.
It has been on the market for years and federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. But advocates for wholesome food have denounced the process as a potentially unsafe and unappetizing example of industrialized food production.
The epithet “pink slime,” coined by a federal microbiologist, has appeared in the media at least since a critical 2009 New York Times report. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has railed against it and it made headlines after McDonald’s and other major chains last year discontinued their use of ammonia-treated beef.
But “pink slime” outrage seemed to reach new heights last week amid reports by The Daily and ABC News. The Daily piece dealt with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s purchase of meat that included “pink slime” for school lunches.
The story touched a nerve with Houston resident Bettina Siegel, whose blog “The Lunch Tray” focuses on kids’ food. On March 6, she started an online petition on Change.org asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “put an immediate end to the use of ‘pink slime’ in our children’s school food.”
“When I put it up, I had this moment of embarrassment,” she said, “What if only 10 people sign this?”
No problem there. Supporters signed on fast. By Wednesday afternoon, the electronic petition had more than 220,000 signatures. Organizers of Change.org said the explosive growth is rare among the roughly 10,000 petitions started there every month.
Meanwhile, Google searches for “pink slime” spiked dramatically. It has become the food version of Joseph Kony, the rogue African warlord virtually unknown in the United States until this month, when an online video campaign against him caught fire. (A bogus Campaign)
But why is “pink slime” striking a nerve now?
Issues can to go from a simmer to an explosion when content with broad interest — such as like food safety — is picked up and disseminated by widely connected people, said Marc A. Smith, director of the Social Media Research Foundation. These people act like “broadcast hubs,” dispersing the information to different communities.
“What’s happening is that the channels whereby this flood can go down this hill have expanded,” Smith said. “The more there are things like Twitter, the easier it is for these powder kegs to explode.”
In this case, Siegel thinks the added element of children’s school lunches could have set off this round.
“That’s what upset me. This idea that children are passively sitting in a lunch room eating what the government sees fit to feed them and McDonald’s has chosen not to use it, but the government is still feeding it to them,” she said. “That really got my ire.”
The USDA — which did not directly address Siegel’s petition — buys about a fifth of the food served in schools across the U.S. The agency this year is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. About seven million pounds of that is from Beef Products Inc., though the pink product in question never accounts for more than 15 per cent of a single serving of ground beef.
“All USDA ground beef purchases must meet the highest standards for food safety. USDA has strengthened ground beef food safety standards in recent years and only allows products into commerce that we have confidence are safe,” agency spokesman Aaron Lavallee said in an email.
Beef Product Inc. stresses that its product is 100 per cent lean beef and is approved by a series of industry experts. The company’s new website, pinkslimeisamyth.com, refutes some common criticisms of the product (“Myth 4: Boneless lean beef trimmings are produced from inedible meat”).
The National Meat Association also has joined the fight, refuting that the product is made from “scraps destined for pet food” and other claims. The industry group also said that ammonium hydroxide is used in baked goods, puddings and other processed foods.
Association CEO Barry Carpenter, who has visited BPI plants and watched the process, said critics don’t seem to have the facts.
“It’s one of those things. It’s the esthetics of it that just gets people’s attention,” Carpenter said. “And in this case, it’s not even legitimate esthetics of it. It’s a perception of what it is.”
Proponents of the process stress that it is both federally regulated and safe. Though Nestle said the focus on safety misses the larger point.
“I’m not arguing that that stuff is unsafe,” she said, “I’m arguing that it’s the lowest common denominator.” Source
The link below also contains videos on Factory Farming, not only on the Egg producers a, but other Factory Farms as well. Such as Pork, Veil etc.
Added September 20 2012