Pink Slime Burgers? Better Know What You’re Putting In Your Mouth

You bet­ter be aware of the ingre­di­ents in the food you’re putting in your mouth.  Oth­er­wise you’re endan­ger­ing your health and the health of your fam­i­ly.

Amer­i­can indus­try is inge­nious at find­ing ways to make things faster and cheap­er.  The same inge­nu­ity is applied on a mas­sive scale to the pro­duc­tion of food.  Large agri­cul­tur­al com­pa­nies also lav­ish funds on lob­by­ing, adver­tis­ing and pub­lic rela­tions to con­vince the pub­lic and reg­u­la­to­ry bod­ies that their prod­ucts are whole­some.

Here’s a recent arti­cle from “Cur­rant News” – a blog devot­ed to sup­port­ing sus­tain­able food pro­duc­tion prac­tices.  They’ve gra­cious­ly allowed me to repub­lish it here.

What’s In My Food?

Oth­er than air, water, and shel­ter, food is an essen­tial part of life.  We all have to eat in order to sur­vive.  Anthro­pol­o­gists argue about what ear­ly human diets were com­prised of but today we can gen­er­al­ly say they are based on fruits, veg­gies, meats, grains, and var­i­ous prod­ucts derived from these sources of food.

Well, at least they are sup­posed to be.

The indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion led to an increase in processed food in order to feed the mass­es.  It’s impor­tant to keep our pop­u­la­tion healthy and make food avail­able for every­one.  The pro­cess­ing of things like wheat led to cere­als, breads, and oth­er oth­er baked goods.  Kraft per­fect­ed the pro­duc­tion of processed Amer­i­can cheese by get­ting rid of bac­te­ria and molds so that the cheese would last a long time with­out spoil­ing, which was great­ly appre­ci­at­ed, or at least tol­er­at­ed, by World War I and II sol­diers.

American cheese

Proud to be “Made in the USA”?

Now we are known for hav­ing a weird plas­tic-like cheese prod­uct with unnat­ur­al fillers that hap­pens to taste real­ly good on In-n-Out burg­ers.  (Side note: I used to eat this cheese so much when I was a kid that my fam­i­ly just start­ed call­ing it Leah cheese.  I would like to let every­one know that my cheese palette has improved since then.)

Over the last cen­tu­ry, com­pa­nies have turned food into “food.”  What exact­ly is in Chee­tos?  And did you know there are 21 types of Chee­tos? And, we are almost used to hear­ing about the strange things being found in our food – pink slime in our beef, arsenic in our chick­en, and bovine growth hor­mone in our milk. This week the Huff­in­g­ton Post post­ed an arti­cle on the 6 Ingre­di­ents You May Not Want In Your Food,” list­ing six ingre­di­ents found in com­mon foods that have been processed to the point that I would con­sid­er call­ing them just “prod­ucts.”  To sum­ma­rize, these prod­ucts include:

  • TBHQ (butane) in chick­en nuggets as a preser­v­a­tive;
  • estro­gen in milk as residue from the hor­mone dos­es giv­en to cows by the farm­ers;
  • spinach dust on veg­gie snack sticks, which doesn’t have any of its orig­i­nal nutri­ents left;
  • propy­lene gly­col (antifreeze) in cake and brown­ie mix­es (think Bet­ty Crock­er), sal­ad dress­ings, low-fat ice creams, and dog food to main­tain smooth­ness;
  • arti­fi­cial vanillin (derived from left over wood pulp resin) in any­thing with arti­fi­cial vanil­la fla­vor, and;
  • cas­toreum (beaver anal gland excre­tions) as arti­fi­cial rasp­ber­ry fla­vor in cheap ice cream, Jell-O, can­dy, fruit-fla­vored drinks, teas, and yogurts.

These ingre­di­ents are added for rea­sons deemed impor­tant by the food indus­try, such as preser­va­tion and cheap fla­vor­ing.  How­ev­er, would you rather eat food or beaver anal gland excre­tions?  Our tongues may not pick up on the dif­fer­ence but our bod­ies do and I wouldn’t call these ingre­di­ents “food.”


Chickens crowded in factory farm

Not So Hap­py Hens


Anoth­er arti­cle on weird ingre­di­ents in food was pub­lished this week in the New York Times Op-Ed sec­tion.  Arsenic in our Chick­en? dis­cuss­es two recent­ly pub­lished stud­ies about chem­i­cal test­ing on chick­en feath­ers.  The idea behind this is that chick­en  feath­ers, like hair and fin­ger­nails, col­lect chem­i­cals that are found in the body.  The pur­pose for test­ing chick­en feath­ers this way is to deter­mine what indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture oper­a­tions are actu­al­ly feed­ing to chick­ens since they are not very will­ing to tell the pub­lic out­right.  Not only was arsenic present but so were caf­feine, the active ingre­di­ents of Tylenol and Benadryl, ille­gal antibi­otics, and the active ingre­di­ents of Prozac (in chick­ens from Chi­na).  Appar­ent­ly, Benadryl, Tylenol, and Prozac are used to relieve stress in chick­ens.  Huh.  Maybe if these chick­ens were not crammed togeth­er in close quar­ters and walk­ing over their dead room­mates, they wouldn’t be stressed.  These chick­ens aren’t scared because the sky is falling – they are scared because their sky is a series of flu­o­res­cent lights that are nev­er turned off.

Pink Slime

If this looks yum­my to you I know a good psy­chi­a­trist

And, of course, I can’t talk about weird ingre­di­ents in food with­out talk­ing about pink slime.  The noto­ri­ous con­coc­tion of ammo­nia, beef scraps off the floor, and con­nec­tive tis­sues that is blend­ed togeth­er to form a “lean fine­ly tex­tured beef” and then mixed with ham­burg­er meat was giv­en a lot of atten­tion start­ing in March when The Dai­ly ran an arti­cle on it.  The sub­stance has been around for a while, but more preva­lent­ly in the last decade, as shown in a time­line put togeth­er by the Food Safe­ty News about the com­pa­ny Beef Prod­ucts, Inc. (BPI) and its pink slime.  If you ever watched Jamie Oliver’s TV show Food Rev­o­lu­tion, you may have seen the episode where he makes this prod­uct to show kids and their par­ents how wrong it real­ly is.  (If you haven’t, you can find it here on YouTube.)  Not only am I dis­turbed about eat­ing pink slime but there is some­thing moral­ly wrong with a soci­ety that has to use these tech­niques to make food.  In my opin­ion, we shouldn’t have to be telling com­pa­nies like BPI that we don’t want pink slime in our food; it nev­er should have been made this way in the first place. Do you agree?

I know organ­ic and sus­tain­able foods have become more main­stream than ever before, but I can­not stress enough the need to have a social shift in the way we make and con­sume food.  Yes, it is impor­tant to have food avail­able for the mass­es but we need to recon­sid­er the way we raise and process chick­en and what sorts of ingre­di­ents we are putting in our vanil­la ice cream.  We should be able to enjoy food for what it is, not some strange vari­a­tion of food with filler ingre­di­ents that aren’t even made from food.  Part of what Cur­rant Table is try­ing to do is to sup­port this social shift by bring­ing more real food to restau­rants.

So, what do you think?  Please share your thoughts on what you think should and should not be in food.



Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Organ­ic food label­ing

Tox­ic chem­i­cals in cos­met­ics



About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
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2 Responses to Pink Slime Burgers? Better Know What You’re Putting In Your Mouth

  1. Pingback: Social, economic and environmental effect on health

  2. George Blomme says:

    A few per­haps ram­bling com­ments on this:
    (1) “Kraft’s Sin­gles” — Proud to be “Made in the USA”? — has been a main­stay of my food intake since I was about 10 years old (I think it was labeled “Kraft cheese” at the time). It con­tin­ues to be a favorite. I enjoy Kraft’s sin­gles on toast, or toast­ed cheese sand­wich­es in the broil­er, using plain “enriched white bread” along with the “cheese prod­uct”. And if its used on “In “N” Out” burg­ers, god bless for those burg­ers are one of the great foods in the U.S., espe­cial­ly when served on let­tuce rather than on buns.
    I’ve made it to age 78 so far, so I’m loathe to label the impor­tance of “Made in U.S.A. cheese” or chick­en feath­er research on the state of my health.
    Re Organ­ic and sus­tain­able foods we have no idea of how its grown or processed except the assumed promise of some farmer-type per­son sup­pos­ed­ly sell­ing untaint­ed organ­ic farm food­stuffs — those organ­ic-cher­ry-pies are real­ly nutri­tion­al I’ve been told. Do you real­ly trust the super­mar­ket aisle pro­duce labelled “organ­ic” (at increased prices).
    I agree that IMPORTANT food research is real­ly impor­tant to our safe­ty (bad slaugh­ter­house con­di­tions, con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed spinach, fish filled with mer­cury) and I do wish our gov­ern­ment found the resources (fund­ing and hon­est inspec­tors) who could assure us of good food qual­i­ty whether at the top of the old-pyra­mid or not.

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