Pink Slime: Now Social Media Whistleblows Food

The days of keeping information from the public seems to have come to an end. This has been displayed through viral social media blasts regarding such things as Wiki Leaks, SOPA and PIPA, Occupy Wall Street and the massive Middle East uprising known as Arab Spring. Recently it has caused turmoil over our food, a meat byproduct deemed pink slime.

Ignorance is Bliss, until it is Tweeted
For years the general public has been gorging themselves on anything that could be cooked and slapped between two buns in less than three minutes. They didn’t care what it was as long as it was cheap and tasty. Now, with the lightning speed of social media any discrepancy, minor or otherwise, has the potential to go viral creating a ripple effect from mass sanctions to millions in lost revenue. The makers of this beef byproduct have recently suspended operations of three out of four of their manufacturing plants placing approximately 200 employees on paid leave until they are able to ‘re-educate’ the public about their product. Was the public ever given a chance to be educated in the first place?

What is Pink Slime?
Pink Slime is a lower cost meat ingredient made up of tiny bits of fat leftover from finer cuts of beef. These fatty bits are heated and spun, allegedly removing most of the fat and leaving behind a substance that was deemed ‘pink slime’ by a federal microbiologist who was repulsed by its texture. In addition, to make matters that much more unappetizing, this byproduct is then compressed into blocks and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria. The blocks are then shipped all over the country to be added to beef dishes acting as a filler to save money and enhance quantity. Interestingly, the coveted FDA deems this industrialized meat pressboard, conveniently labeled ‘finely textured ground beef’, as adhering to all safety standards.

The Long and Short of It
Now that pink slime has been dropped from many schools and store chains such as Wegman’s, Stop & Shop, Kroger and Food Lion the ‘power of the people’ has been heard. However, it is interesting how an insignificant thing such as using all parts of beef compressed into blocks creates such uproar when eating things such as veal doesn’t seem to cause concern. Veal is the meat taken from baby cows (calves) that have been raised in a box until they are slaughtered.

Pink slime may have been exposed but it will only be a matter of time before it is given a new name and new look so the public is duped once again. Maybe the hypocrisy of compartmentalized flavor-of-the-month social media uproars will expand to more important issues, such as cleaning up our political circus or demanding more alternative energy. Either way it will be interesting to see how and if social media will forge our future. Will it be done with organization and information or sensationalism and fear mongering? Let’s wait and see.


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