Pink Slime: Will the ick factor scare Americans towards a healthier diet?

When you hear the phrase “pink slime,” maybe it brings to mind that disgusting, supernatural river of underground goop in Ghostbusters 2, or something dumped on the head of a contestant on a Nickelodeon game show. These associations hearken back to a more innocent time, before a recent flurry of news reports about how the beef industry pads its product with “pink slime,” a disgusting name for the amalgamation of connective tissue and fat that gets treated with ammonia to kill bacteria, flash frozen, and shoved into processed beef as inexpensive filler.

Sound gross? You bet it does. But the idea of pink slime could give you some weight loss help by encouraging you to avoid foods that might be packed full of the nasty stuff. A great deal of America’s processed beef contains the additive, including fast food restaurants and many school lunches, so now you have one more reason to avoid eating fast food cheeseburgers.

However, protein is an important part of your diet, and red meat is rich in it. Though most experts agree that eating excess red meat can have negative health effects, small portions can still be a beneficial part of your diet. Finding less processed beef options can keep beef in your diet without forcing you to think about what potentially unscrupulous things are being put into it.

Fortunately, despite desperate claims of “Dude, it’s beef!” from red meat proponents, efforts to call it the much less awful, slime-free epithet “lean finely textured beef,” and claims that the additive actually produces a healthier product, many stores have stopped carrying meat processed with pink slime, forcing many beef processing plants that deal with pink slime to close. Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a closer look at the packaging of the beef products you buy. Though the furor over pink slime has caused many to discontinue selling it, buying organic or local beef may be the most certain way to keep beef in your diet while keeping slime out.