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U.S. supermarket Safeway to stop selling "pink slime" beef

(Xinhua)

08:50, March 22, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Safeway, the second largest supermarket chain in North America, on Wednesday announced that it will no longer sell "pink slime" beef, or the "lean finely textured beef" called by the industry.

"While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product. Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef," said the company based in Pleasanton, California, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lean finely textured beef, banned for human consumption in Britain, is made from low quality scraps treated with ammonia gas and commonly used in dog and chicken food as well as cooking oil.

Earlier this month, The Daily, the iPad newspaper from News Corp., reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to buy 7 million pounds of lean finely textured beef for the national school lunch program.

Gerald Zirnstrin, a microbiologist who used to work for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and coined the term "pink slime," told The Daily that "scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval."

Carl Custer, Zirnstein's former colleague who worked at the Food Safety Inspection Service for 35 years, told The Daily that they objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle.

"It was simply not nutritionally equivalent (to ground beef). My main objection was that it was not meat," Custer said.

The production of "pink slime" was started by Beef Products Inc. (BPI). Its founder Eldon Roth developed a process to use ammonia gas to kill pathogens that may be found in beef trimmings to produce frozen beef.

Although its safety and efficacy have been questioned, an ABC news report said that it is estimated that 70 percent of the ground beef sold at U.S. supermarkets and up to 25 percent of each American hamburger patty contain "pink slime."

Last December, fast food chain giants McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell announced they would discontinue the use of BPI products in their food.

According to The Daily, several supermarket chains in the U.S. including Target and Walmart sell ground meat with "pink slime."

Last Thursday, the USDA announced that beginning next fall, school districts involved in the U.S. national school lunch program will have the option of avoiding "pink slime."


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