What is Pink Slime and How Does it Taste?

With all the furor about pink slime, there seems to be confusion as to what exactly it is. People are jumping on this band wagon like it’s Kony 2012 all over again. Let’s take a closer look at what it is and why it isn’t actually as bad for you as it sounds.

Pink Slime, says the AP, is made from beef. It is “made from bits of meat left over from other cuts” that are then “heated and spun to remove the fat” and “compressed into blocks for mixing into conventional ground beef” that is often fattier “ to produce an overall leaner product.”

Since it's made from beef, it doesn’t need to be listed as a separate ingredient and may still be in beef listed as “all natural.”

"You can't differentiate beef from beef," says National Meat Association spokesman Jeremy Russell. He adds “Talking to your retailer would be the only way."

So now that we’ve established that pink slime is actually beef, let’s see how it tastes. Luckily, AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is a willing guinea pig. Before tasting it, Hirsch noted that the slime-free beef was “slightly fattier to touch,” which makes no sense since both samples were 80/20 ground beef; he also noticed the slime beef having a slightly pinker color.

Hirsch cooked each burger the exact same way, in a frying pan for five minutes on both sides and adding only salt and pepper to the finished product. Hirsch says the slime burger was neither bad nor good. The main difference was in the texture, which was “ Unpleasantly chewy… a mealy chew that, while not overtly unpleasant, didn't leave me wanting another bite.”

So there you have it, pink slime makes meat pinker, mealy, and oddly chewy. It does not pose any known health threats and is actually made from real beef. While it is questionably strange, it is no different than the mechanically separated chicken used to make chicken nuggets. For many people, it will come down to price more than anything else, since most of us have probably already eaten pink slime and lived to tell about it. The organic beef is $5.99 per pound and pink slime beef is $3.09 per pound.

Bon appétit!

Photo Credit: ilovebutter

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Ryan Gorman

Ryan's work has been featured in the NY Daily News, Gothamist and the Wall Street Letter. His work has been cited by both the Colbert Report and Time Magazine's website. Ryan worked on Wall Street for five years before returning to school to finish a degree in journalism at St. John's University.

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