McDonald's Meat Gets (Slightly) Less Icky
By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 1, 2012 8:40PM
Late in 2009, the New York Times broke the story that McDonald's was buying much of its beef from Beef Products Incorporated. BPI's big innovation? Getting more and more trimmings, scraps and previously-unusable pieces of meat into hamburgers. The only problem: These scraps were particularly susceptible to contamination. So, BPI injected the meat with ammonia to sterilize it. The "pink slime," as the ammonium hydroxide was sometimes called, never quite worked as well as the company claimed (in addition to being super gross) and Oak Brook-based McDonald's announced yesterday that they were no longer using meat treated with the process.
Some attribute the change in policy to celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver's widespread campaign against the "pink slime," which is also used to treat inexpensive meat turned into school lunches. He demonstrated the process on his television show and called for its elimination. Ammonium hydroxide, by the way, is the same stuff you use to clean your kitchen counters.
Burger King and Taco Bell have also discontinued the process. If this were simply a case of behind-the-scenes ickyness that was actually keeping consumers safe, we probably wouldn't be so excited to see it go—but this process didn't actually stop E. Coli and Salmonella from contaminating the beef, and the scraps being turned into hamburgers shouldn't have been eaten anyway. Even if this adds 50 cents to the price of a hamburger, we're all for it.