Frozen Bricks of Finely Textured Beef

June 14, 2012

The recent public outcry over pink slime has had very grave consequences for the beef producing industry.  On April 2, 2012,  ground-beef processor, AFA Foods, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to deal with the effects of the pink slime controversy.  You can find the docket on Westlaw and WestlawNext in the Bankruptcy Court of Delaware dockets with docket number 1:12-BK-11128.

First, what is pink slime?

Here is a description of what pink slime (also known as “Lean Finely Textured Beef”) is and how it is made from Consumerist magazine 2012 WLNR 5025734:

…”[P]ink slime” is made by gathering waste trimmings, simmering them at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spinning the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. The process is completed by packaging the meat into bricks. Then, it is frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef.

Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?  Many people don’t seem to think so.  Once the public was apprised of this process, the demand to remove pink slime from ground beef reached a feverish pitch.  Try the following search in ALLNEWS on Westlaw or in WestlawNext to see for yourself:

“pink slime” and remov! disgust! concern! worry! Health

Concerned parents have also joined the fray in demanding that their children’s school lunches be pink-slime-free.  This has led the United States Department of Agriculture to issue a statement that it will allow schools to choose whether or not to purchase beef products containing lean finely textured beef.  This document is available on Westlaw at 2012 WLNR 5606832.  In addition to the USDA’s statement, several states have decided to counter the issue through legislative action that either requires any beef product containing pink slime to be labeled as such or simply banning the use of such products in schools period.  Search for “pink slime” “lean finely textured beef” in Proposed and Enacted Legislation on WestlawNext or  ST-BILLS in Westlaw to see these bills.

Despite all the brouhaha over pink slime and the harm it’s caused to the beef industry’s bottom line, many scientists say it is safe to consume.  In fact, some say that meat containing pink slime might actually be healthier because it is leaner than regular beef.  See Beef magazine’s, Ground Beef Gets Raw Deal in Media at 2012 WLNR 7484951.  It just needs a better name.