Friday 6 April 2012

Pink Slime: What you can eat may not be food

Raising the Yuck Factor
I cannot say I am one to be overtaken by food scares that fill our headlines from day to day but I do worry when the way our food is derived departs from as it were standard procedures to concoctions that make Frankenstein plasticine play.
In all honesty, I should be unconcerned with the uproar about “pink slime” because I never use minced beef in my cooking and rarely ever eat meals that have minced beef as part of the ingredients.
“Pink Slime” or to give its it more fanciful name - Lean Finely Textured Beef – plumbs the depths of sick-making yuck that could have you filling sick-bags with more than the contents of your stomach.
Taking science beyond food
As the story goes, some food industry genius thought after beef was cut off the bone there was still too much being discarded and he came up with the process of heating the beef trimmings in centrifuges to separate the fat from the meat, the exposing the product to ammonium gas to kill bacteria and this is mixed with ground beef in what Beef Products Inc. (hardly reminiscent of your dear grandma’s kitchen in name or purpose) might have called the triumph of economics and science over waste.
Reading this is stomach churning enough for my somewhat rigid constitution but what makes it alarming is the way the food industry has subsumed the regulators who trot out the idea that this whole thing is safe.
I will however contend that just because the processing of food is safe does not mean it is fit for purpose; the safety of processing must not just be demonstrated but it must be seen to not to take the Yuck Factor to the point of chronic emesis.
These unnatural things
Indeed, one must commend Jamie Oliver [1] for exposing this atrocious travesty that takes the nutritious and edible out of food leaving it just barely amenable to mastication with our digestive systems struggling to derive any nutrients before the muck is passed out our bodies made more susceptible to unknown attacks having not evolved to the chemistry necessary to process this stuff.
It is bad enough to learn that beef is treated with carbon monoxide [2] to prevent its natural browning due to rancidity or to note the rise of Frankenstein Sugars [3], but nothing prepared me for when I read that beef from a cow apparently suffering from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy [4] (BSE) or “Mad Cow’s Disease” ended up in 8 states and the Island of Guam [5].
What is real?
There is no reason to touch the topic of Mechanically Recovered Meat [6] if you have not filled three sick bags already, but when you realise that sausages and chicken nuggets from conveyor-belt mass-market and cheap outlets do not lend themselves to traditional methods your begin to wonder what else is sacred about our food.
This is not to say that there is no need to find ways to improve quality and yield for food products be they plant or animal derived but the tampering with natural processes to do with colour, texture, taste and unnatural derivations has to be more tightly regulated and probably stopped, besides, with the certificates of food-worthiness given by food agencies we are left to better trust our instincts than allow for these compromised agencies in cahoots with the Food Industrial Complex to certify products stray dogs might well sniff at.
Debunking Myths
According to [7], McDonald’s stopped using mechanically recovered meat in Chicken McNuggets in 2003. When I feel better, I might be tempted to try it again.

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