The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Remember 'Pink Slime'? It Can Now Be Marketed as 'Ground Beef'
By Dan Nosowitz
That video showed the extrusion of a bubblegum-pink substance oozing into a coiled pile, something between Play-Doh, sausage and soft-serve strawberry ice cream. Branded "pink slime"—the name came from an email sent by a USDA microbiologist in 2002—this stuff was actually beef, destined for supermarkets and fast-food burgers.
The company that makes pink slime, Beef Products Incorporated, recently notified its customers that the product can now be called something different and more appetizing: ground beef.
Pink slime is not necessarily dangerous or mysterious or even particularly gross, in the abstract. During the butchering process, meat trimmings are captured. The trimmings are then sent through a centrifuge, which separates the fat from the meat; trimmings are very high in fat. The fat can be sold separately as tallow, but the now 95 percent lean (or so) is then treated to prevent contaminants and then processed into the ooze seen in the video.
Previously, pink slime was sometimes folded into ground beef sold in supermarkets, or more commonly sold to fast-food purveyors for use in burgers. The anti-contaminant treatment used by BPI is ammonia, which is legal in the US but not in Canada or in the European Union, where pink slime is thus banned.
BPI has tried since the release of the 2012 video to rehabilitate the image of this product, which is technically called "lean finely textured beef." They had an ad campaign ("Dude, it's beef!") which was promoted not only by the company but by politicians in states with large cattle industries, like Texas. And now, according to Beef Magazine (an industry publication), BPI asked the USDA to reclassify the product.
Until now, pink slime could not be sold under the name "ground beef." It could be combined with ground beef and sold as ground beef, but not by itself. There may or may not have been some changes to the product—a great report from New Food Economy showed BPI was not entirely eager to show off claimed changes—but regardless, the USDA chose to allow the new name.
Despite the fact that this product is not, well, ground in a grinder, but instead mechanically separated and processed, it can be sold simply as ground beef. It's probably worth noting that, ammonia aside, there's nothing inherently objectionable about the product; it is, really, processed beef trimmings, which would normally go to waste. The issue is more about consumer understanding. If, as the beef industry is claiming, it's unfair to consumers to call plant-based products "meat," wouldn't it be just as unfair to call lean finely textured beef "ground beef"?
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Melissa Kravitz
Can't stop eating that bag of chips until you're licking the salt nestled in the corners of the empty package from your fingers? You're not alone. And it's not entirely your fault that the intended final handful of chips was not, indeed, your last for that snacking session. Many common snack foods have been expertly engineered to keep us addicted, almost constantly craving more of whatever falsely satisfying manufactured treat is in front of us.
By Kim Knowlton
A new paper just out in The Lancet Planetary Health provides the first global indication that recent temperature increases, propelled by climate change, are in fact contributing significantly to longer and more intense pollen seasons.
EcoWatch is pleased to announce its second photo contest! Earth Day is happening on April 22nd, and this year's theme is "Protect Our Species." With that in mind, we want EcoWatchers to show us your photographs of creatures that inhabit Earth. Send us your best photos of species you value.
By Julia Conley
In propping up the coal industry, the Trump administration is not only contributing to dangerous pollution, fossil fuel emissions and the climate crisis, it is also now clinging to a far more expensive energy production model than renewable energy offers.
That's according to a new report from renewable energy analysis firm Energy Innovation, showing that about three-quarters of power produced by the nation's remaining coal plants is more expensive for American households than renewables including wind, solar and hydro power.
At least 19 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in flash flooding in the south of Iran, the country's semi-official Tasnim News Agency said. The city of Shiraz in Fars province was the worst hit by the flooding, which occurred after a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation has decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive: