A number of articles have been published in the last few days as Safeway and Kroger have announced their intentions to stop selling ground beef products that contain lean finely textured beef. The ammonia treated additive has gotten significant attention after receiving the nickname "pink slime."
If you're not familiar with the stuff, a number of processing plants have been grinding up all the bits of cow left over after normal processing, treating it with chemicals to remove E. coli and other unsafe bacteria and then selling it back to other beef producers who fold it into their ground beef products.
As these grocery stores bow to the weight of concerned consumers, little is said about what products actually contain lean finely textured beef. Images in some of the news stories you see on television have been showing mounds of ground beef in butcher cases while talking about the pink slime exodus, but that's misleading.
I called Kroger and asked what products were being removed from their supply chain and was told the prepacked ground beef you find in the meat case (the representative called them a chub-pack) and Kroger brand frozen burgers both contained pink slime. I asked about other processed burgers in the frozen case and was told I'd have to contact each manufacture individually.
So I called Bubba Burger, the guys that sell frozen burger patties six to a box and asked them: Is there pink slime in your Bubba Burgers? They passed me off to a few different people before finally sending me a news release that has a lot of words and the answer which is no, there isn't pink slime in Bubba Burgers.
I'd call every frozen burger manufacturer in the country, but there are a lot of them and I'm hungry and want to go to lunch. Besides, there's an easy way to avoid pink slime if you want to: Ask the butcher at your grocery store if he ground the beef in question onsite. If he says yes, ask him if he put pink slime in mix. I'll bet you a buck (but only one of you) that he doesn't. If the butcher says he doesn't grind the meat onsite, walk out the door and don't shop there anymore.
Pink slime isn't something that's sitting around at grocery stores all over the country and sprinkled on foods like salt and pepper. It's an additive used by large processing plants that grind beef, seal it in plastic and ship it all over the country. The way to avoid pink slime, if you choose, is to talk to your butcher, buy freshly ground beef and process those burgers yourself with your very own meat beaters. Burgers made at home with freshly ground beef don't take that much work anyway, and they taste a lot better too.