Monday, December 17, 2012

The What? Why? and Really? Pink Slime is Suing

Photo Credit: mysanantonio

This article really caught my attention when I first saw it.  You read it correctly:  Pink slime is suing ABC for slander.  Let's first lay down the context of the situation.  Earlier this year, various media outlets honed in on one notorious meat product called "pink slime".  The news about this pink slime was all over the place.  From ABC to the HuffPost, folks were not playing about trying to get down to the bottom of this mess.   So what was this controversy all about?  It all started when the word got out about what was really in this stuff.  First, let's figure out what in the world is pink slime, anyway?

The official name for pink slime is "Finely Textured Lean Beef".   Ok, so beef is still in the name, so one can assume that it is mostly the meat of the cow that constitutes this "textured lean beef".  Weeeeeelll, not so much.  The very words from the mouth of a former corporate quality manager of a pink slime producing company, Beef Products Inc, describe it as simply......a filler.   It comes from the discarded portions of the cow during the meat production process and only after the application of heat, centrigual force and ammonia is it considered USDA approved.  The only thing that comes to mind when I think of ammonia is disinfectant....... for cleaning the toilet.......................Ew!   Yooo, you're real messed up for that.  Kit Foshee, the former manager spilled a little more of the beans in the article:

"It kinda looks like play's pink and frozen and it's not what the typical person would consider will fill you up but it won't do you any good."

Photo Credit:

Foshee was alluding to the nutritional value of the substance in that because it is derived from mostly connective tissue rather than muscle tissue (DOC training has me all over this tissue stuff), it is more like gelatin and provides little nutrition.  This appears to defeat the whole purpose of consuming a meat product because the sole purpose is to contribute nutritionally in regards to protein.

Photo Credit: Inhabitots

 If it can't give you that, why is it being sold?  And why is it being fed to the babes in school who need nutrient-dense meals for their growing minds and bodies?  This math doesn't add up.

Photo Credit: Kath Dedon

Thinking about having spaghetti and pink slime balls for dinner wouldn't sound that appetizing, right?  Since I got my bangin' bird food, I wouldn't be eating it in any lifetime but the thought just kills the appetite.  So what do the scientists have the say about it?  A research study carried out by pathologists at Cleveland Clinic performed in a sense, a purity assessment, to see how much of this "beef" was really beef.    After testing the amount of actual flesh in burgers containing the pink slime filler, they found the range to be from 2.1 % to 14.8 %, with a considerable level of fat in adipose tissue and lipid droplets as well of two unexpected cases of the parasite, Sarcocystis.  So majority of this product does not even contain real meat?  Did the pink slime producers leave their math kills at the door?  I'm just confused as to how a product containing under 15% real beef can be officially and legally labeled "finely textured lean BEEF".  This math is not adding up.

The technique of processing this mass because, my people, it sure ain't meat is actually approved by both the USDA and the FDA.  Really though, you guys signed on that?   See now I have to question everything else you sign on.......GMOs.......crazy levels of pesticide........inhumane slaughterhouse practices.....the lists appears to go on.

The NYTimes was already questioning the process back in 2009.

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In a HuffPost by Dr. Micheal Gregor, he points out that instead of taking the necessary measures to change practices and thus choose consumer health over company profits, companies simply shift the responsibly of food safety to the consumer.  Man, how easy is that.  It is true what they say about our human tendency to take the road less traveled.  In this situation, the road less traveled really means cutting costs and the road is made of gold bricks shining brightly in your face.  Only one question seems important for these companies: "How can I extract the most cha-ching out of this beef thing?"  Profit/People = Lack of concern for people and their well being.   Ok, I see how the math adds up now.

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This whole "blame the consumer approach" appears to be the traditional method of choice for not just meat companies but any company or industry that profits off of negatively impacting the health of living beings.  When you look at it as objectively as possible, that is sadly what is taking place.  Take the junk food companies, for example.  The advice given is: eat better.  However, I'm finding it hard to understand how people are supposed to make better decisions about their health when billions of dollars are poured into advertising junk food on billboards, on television, in schools, in the supermarket, on the internet, on buses and in magazines for people to eat. And they research hard as a mug to determine how best to influence their decisions.

So I just thought it was quite interesting for the main producer of the pink slime to first, accuse the media of initiating a slandering campaign and second, for zoning in on ABC as the main culprit in propagating the so called "myth".  ABC was quite obviously not the only news channel involved but according to the chairman, they took the slandering to the next level and set the fire ablaze to the news traveling like wildfire.  I thought this warranted a What? Why? and Really? post seeing that pink slime is not a myth.  You can also sense the angry tone in the article from the company chairman as he describes how ABC has convinced the American people that they are selling "some filthy product that is hidden away in ground beef".  Oh, you mad?   This reminds me of a common human behavior: getting mad when you get called out or caught doing something you should not be to push the blame somewhere else.  Well, companies are just clumps of people so I guess it shouldn't be surprising that this behavior was observed here.  Folk are still mad up until an employee of the company coming out with another lawsuit against ABC just two days ago.

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So let me tie up my spiel here.  The most important thing I have learned from this story is that people have seeeeeerious power to change circumstances if they act as a unit.  The concept of power by numbers is no more true than in this situation.  This is what happens when people respond.  McDonald's immediately stops buying the product, supermarkets discontinue Pink Slime purchasing and stocking, Pink Slime sails plummet and Pink Slime companies go out of business.  Whoa!  People don't play.  Reckon with that force, you better not.  So if this is what we can do in regards to this product, what could we do in regards to changing the current culture and production of food?  If we can change this little thing, we can change bigger things.  The truth is business principles are very much alive and well.  Businesses need your participation.  Businesses also consider your desires and preferences.  So you, as a consumer, possess a ton of power.  That power lies in this one phrase: the customer is always right.  With that one phrase, I think we absolutely have the opportunity to change the future.

Chairman suing ABC
Pink Slime article by ABC
Pink Slime by Dr. Gregor
McDonald's drops pink slime
2009 NYTimes article
Employee suing ABC

Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be happy and healthy. Ciao!

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