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120314 pink slime.mp3
Pink slime is everywhere these days. It’s in your burgers (probably) and the newspapers (most definitely). In an effort to parse the “sticky” situation, today it comes to Eight Forty-Eight.
A microbiologist coined the term pink slime back in 2002 to describe beef scraps treated with ammonia hydroxide. The chemicals loosen up the trimmings, which eventually are mixed with ground beef.
To avoid bad publicity, fast food chains including McDonald’s ditched the substance — but the federal government hasn’t. Last week, The Daily reported that the USDA is set to purchase 7 million lbs. of pink slime for school lunches, although Chicago Public Schools recently released a statement saying they run a slime-free operation.
The company that makes the stuff, Beef Products Inc., says it’s safe.
Chicago food scientist Kantha Shelke thinks the substance should be studied more thoroughly. While ammonia hydroxide is said to remove contaminants, ground beef products have seen an increase in salmonella and E. coli. She says it’s unclear whether that’s because of the slime or the meat itself.
Shelke comes on Eight Forty-Eight to explain the science and say whether pink slime is any worse than the other ingredients and processes used to make food products. WBEZ’s Louisa Chu also also weighs in on the controversy.