Yummy, Yummy in my tummy – from an old 1960’s song. I don’t quite think Pink Slime burger and nitrosamines is what they had in mind in this old song.
This newsletter is from two different stories this week, but they both have to do with unhealthy meat, so I have put them together in one article.
The first article is about processed meat that includes hot dogs, bologna, ham, bacon and processed meats like turkey, salami, roast beef, sausage and hamburger.
Hot dogs, bologna, salami, pastrami, pepperoni and other similar meats are made up of all the unwanted junk left over after the better cuts of meat are removed. These parts can be the udder, testicles and other leftovers. They add chemicals like MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup and other unimaginable chemicals to improve the taste. I have read about chicken hot dogs being made of ground up chicken bones and cartilage. A big part of the chemicals are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring and flavoring. Nitrates found in processed meats are very often converted into nitrosamines that are associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, like colon cancer. Also, cooking on a grill at high temperatures can convert nitrate and nitrites to nitrosamines.
A solution to this is to cook on an indirect fire, like the Holland Grill, besides not eating products ground-up by someone you don’t know. My solution is that I don’t eat anything ground up by someone I can’t meet and talk with at a store. Because of this, I eat sausage from Central Market and Whole Foods. I also produce our own all-beef sausage without toxic chemicals and sugar/HFCS. I use a healthy sea salt like Real Salt from Redmond minerals in Redmond, Utah.
Bacon and ham are another problem. These have been made for thousands of years in a way to preserve them for food throughout the year. For the most part, a country ham and bacon were treated with salt to dehydrate the meat and with smoke to add flavor. Nitrates and nitrites were added to make the meat a pinkish color, considered to be more visually appealing, but when cooking, the meats were soaked in water and then parboiled before frying. This process removed a lot of the salt and nitrates before frying, thus eliminating many of the toxic, cancer-causing chemicals.
Today, there are preparations that don’t use nitrates and nitrites and the meat is tasty and not unhealthy.
When it comes to hamburger, anything goes as far as food manufacturers are concerned. As long as you don’t die in the first 30 days, anything goes. This brings me to another article about pink slime “burger” that appeared this week on the internet.
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. 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, then treated with AMMONIA to “retard spoilage” and turned into “a mash-like substance frozen into blocks or chips”.
This saves THREE CENTS a pound off production costs, making the company, Beef Products Inc., a fortune – $440 million/year in revenue. Ain’t that something?
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. They also OK’d 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.
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.”
So what can you do to protect yourself and your family?
First of all, stop eating this crap and don’t let your kids eat in the school lunch programs. These shoddy products are bad, but there are more things in the school lunch program that are as bad as the above products.
Don’t eat anything ground-up unless you know the person who is doing it – hamburger, hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni, salami, etc.
When it comes to chicken, beef and pork, buy from local people you can get to know and trust.
Local food, whether it is meat protein, vegetables or fruit, is the way to go. Organic is always better if you know the people. Organic from 1500 miles away is probably not healthy (apples, oranges, avocadoes etc. are exceptions to this rule). Foods that are less-processed and less-cooked are always better for your health.
To Your Good Health