Meat Processing Technologies

July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

E. coli contaminated foods and food safety have been in the headlines of late. With that threat in mind, you might think that a company doing something to protect the consumer from food borne illness would be praised. But that’s not the case.

A company called Beef Products, Inc. has four meat processing plants in the Midwest delivering a guaranteed 94% lean, safe, ground beef to the consumer. Who can complain?

Naysayers ranging from ABC News to Midwestern bloggers to the New York Times have expressed alarm about lean beef trimmings because they are processed with tiny amounts of ammonia hydroxide which raises the product’s pH and kills deadly pathogens like E. coli.

The boneless lean beef is made from the same high quality USDA-inspected trimmings as other ground beef. The naysayers conjure negative visions by calling the product “pink slime.” No one will argue that the process of turning livestock into meat is a pretty picture but we don’t need to denigrate the product and scare the public.

Ammonia hydroxide is approved for processing of foods by the Food and Drug Administration, USDA, the World Health Organization and most other countries. It is used in the processing of a wide array of other foods including soft drinks, baked goods, cheeses, and puddings. Ammonia is essential to life and naturally present in meat and almost everything else we eat.

Beef Products, Inc. samples each and every box of meat product and holds it until it is verified to be E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella free. The company is now testing for the top six other E. coli pathogens. Their ground beef is as safe as you can find. They deserve credit, not critique.

Mischaracterizing new technologies is not new. Look at the assault on GM foods. The point to be made is, if we can advance the cause of food safety, then we should have a full and fair discussion, not one based on agendas, prejudice, and scare tactics.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.