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Don’t Engulf ‘Pink Slime’ At Your Next BBQ — Here’s How To Avoid It This Summer [News]

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Get ready for the summer of pink. ‘Pink Slime,’ that is. And if you’re lost and haven’t seen the images that look like strawberry flavored fro-yo, take a peek. That was allegedly in an estimated 70% of processed beef products (e.g. ground beef, burgers, hot dogs, bologna, sausage, and even chicken nuggets) before investigative reports and vicious social media backlash nearly killed it off back in 2012. Read the recap if you’re unfamiliar.

In the wake of skyrocketing beef prices — up 27% over the past 2 years, mainly due to drought — that pink slime, formally known as Finely Textured Beef (FTB), is primed to make a 360º back into beef aisles for summer 2014. But what the hell is FTB, why is it used, and why is it so controversial? You should know what you’re eating.

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Image: Wall Street Journal

FTB is mechanically processed from discarded fat trimmings, using the tiny bits of lean meat that are too small to carve off with a knife. It’s then heated up, spun around in a giant centrifuge to separate the lean meat from fatty mass, and then drenched with ammonia hydroxide — yes, ammonia — to kill bacteria like E.coli. That recycled, lean meat can then be mixed in with other cuts to form the ground beef, frozen hamburgers, hot dogs, fast food, bologna, jerky, and other processed beef products on shelves.

Think of it as an extremely low cost beef filler that effectively turns garbage into MASSIVE quantities of edible meat. It’s food recycling. And that ultimately bumps up food production, significantly cuts costs, makes certain LQ beef products more affordable, and reduces waste.

That all sounds great in theory. The downside? It’s reconstructed in factories and drenched with ammonia.

It’s worth noting that FTB and the ammonia treatment are approved by the FDA and USDA, and generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Cargill and Beef Products Inc, the two largest producers of FTB, vehemently back that it’s safe and practical. And duh, of course they would.

But still, there’s a very fundamental issue of common sense and comfort — I’ll never be okay with mechanically produced meat that’s doused with a corrosive, industrial chemical. There’s nothing savory or wholesome about it, regardless of what the FDA might think. And that’s ON TOP of the fact that everything it’s in is already fatty and calorically dense as all hell, laced with sodium, and gushing with additives and other preservatives.

I was already out on all processed beef based on the nutritional content. FTB isn’t helping the cause.


How To Nix FTB This Summer

Here are a few ways to get around FTB this summer without derailing your BBQ:

  • Check labels. Cargill, one of the largest manufacturers of FTB, will start labeling beef products that contain FTB prior to summer 2014. Some supermarkets are also making the labels mandatory.
  • Hit up the butcher counter. Stick with lean, whole cuts of beef. Filet mignon and other lean varieties of steak are your best bets.
  • Eat less ground beef and processed beef products.
  • FISH.
  • If you need your burger fix, or ground beef for a recipe, look for meat that’s 100% organic and/or 100% grass-fed.
  • Use ground turkey and ground chicken.


Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto

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