Don't Get Slimed by Social Media
The Social Media Target of the Month for March was the ground beef product known as “pink slime.” A social media-led groundswell of distaste for the product has fast food restaurants and grocery stores dumping slime-infused ground beef at an alarming rate.
Meat processing plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas have closed and another producer filed bankruptcy in wake of the public’s outcry. Governors of those states are calling for an investigation of the pink slime “smear campaign.”
Pink slime is lean, finely textured beef made by heating fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts to about 100 F and spinning it to remove most of the fat. The lean mix is then compressed into blocks for use in ground meat and treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella. The byproduct is then used as filler for ground beef.
Until last year, schools, fast food restaurants and up to 70 percent of ground beef sold in grocery stores included pink slime. If you have eaten a hamburger in the past decade chances are you ate pink slime and survived.
The United States Department of Agriculture approved the use of the beef product process in 2001. In 2002, Gerald Zirnstein, a USDA microbiologist, coined the term “pink slime” in an email to his superiors.
The New York Times first reported on pink slime in 2009. Its critical report on the meat product raised eyebrows but did not slow sales at the time.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver began a campaign against the product last year. Here is a video showing Oliver’s negative take on pink slime. The combination of Oliver’s television show and 1.4 million views on YouTube were enough to start the slime’s demise.Continued on the next page