Photo by Cobalt123.
You didn’t think I’d miss my chance to weigh in on the latest round of pink slime discussions, did you? Rather than recapitulate the horror that is your favorite form of “lean finely textured beef,” I will instead point you to my favorite statement in defense of pink slime. It was given by American Meat Institute Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren to NPR:
“This is not the same ammonia you’d use in cleaning supplies,” explains Betsy Booren of the AMI Foundation. “It’s a gas, it’s a different compound, and it’s a well-established processing intervention that has a long history of success.”
First off, the AMI Foundation? AMI’s own website identifies the group as “a national trade association that represents companies that process 95 percent of red meat and 70 percent of turkey in the U.S. and their suppliers throughout America.” Foundation my arse.
And granted, I’m no chemist — but my understanding is that the form of ammonia used in cleaning products is typically ammonium hydroxide. And the form used in pink slime is … ammonium hydroxide! The only difference is the household cleaner is a liquid and pink slime is treated with a gas.
But that’s not really the issue. When you have to defend your food production practice by saying, “Hey, at least we don’t use household cleaners on it!” you know you’ve got a big problem.
What pink slime represents is an open admission by the food industry that it is hard-pressed to produce meat that won’t make you sick. Because, I hate to break it to you folks, but ammonium hydroxide is just one in a long list of unlabeled chemical treatments used on almost all industrial meat and poultry.
Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News dug up this United Stated Department of Agriculture document [PDF], which lists dozens of chemicals that processors can apply to meat without any labeling requirement. Things like calcium hypochlorite (also used to bleach cotton and clean swimming pools), hypobromous acid (also used as a germicide in hot tubs), DBDMH (or 1,3-dibromo-5,5-dimethylhydantoin, which is also used in water treatment), and chlorine dioxide (also used to bleach wood pulp), to name just a few.
All these chemicals can go on meat. Not that you’d know it, because both the industry and the USDA keep it on the down-low. In fact, they work together on this. The USDA requires processors to label certain approved antimicrobials, such as salt, spices, and even lemon as ingredients, but not their hard-to-pronounce brethren. Why not? Perhaps because it might shock and disgust consumers to know how thoroughly their meat must be chemically disinfected before it can be sold. USDA’s head of food safety Elizabeth Hagen told Bottemillerrecently that, “Just being honest, I don’t think your average consumer probably knows a lot about how food is produced.” She’s right. We don’t know the half of it — and the more we find out, the angrier many of us get.
Andy Bellatti recently wrote a piece he called “Beyond Pink Slime,” in which he enumerates all the problems with industrial meat production that led it to this point. And in many ways pink slime is the perfect embodiment of a food industry gone off the rails.
In short, they took meat that was too dangerous to feed to humans, disinfected it so thoroughly that a block of the stuff will make your eyes water, and then celebrated the fact that they’d created a two-fer (it’s a food! it’s a disinfectant!).  The industry embraced their creation so completely that around 70 percent of all supermarket ground beef now contains the stuff. But this goes way beyond hamburger. As Tom Philpott points out, pink slime is used in a huge variety of products including “hot dogs, lunch meats, chili, sausages, pepperoni, retail frozen entrees, roast beef, and canned foods.” By industry standards, it is nothing short of a food “intervention” success story.
The irony, of course, is that the 2010 debate over pink slime brought to light evidence that this treated meat product is not nearly as reliable a disinfecting agent as its maker asserted. It was likely those indications that led the fast food industry, in most ways farther ahead of the food safety curve than supermarkets or school food providers, to abandon the ingredient late last year. And now that the mainstream media has taken notice of pink slime, even the USDA has had to back off its wholehearted endorsement for it in school lunch.
But don’t let the appearance of a back-and-forth debate fool you. Pink slime is truly worse than other forms of disinfected treated meat since the trimmings used in pink slime are known to harbor pathogens at high levels before treatment. Should it disappear from store shelves, however, we can rest assured the meat that remains will continue to be treated with other industrial chemicals. Because that’s — pure and simple — the only way the industrial meat industry can prevent its products from making people sick.
I’d like to see more consumers and media outlets asking why exactly that is.

Pink Slime is Only the Beginning! 24 Disgusting Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Were Eating

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Pink Slime is Only the Beginning!

Do you know what you are eating? Of course you do, right? You are buying a food product and putting it into your own mouth.
But do you really know what you are putting into your body?
If you aren’t making most of your food from scratch or at least being very careful about what you purchase, chances are you are consuming some pretty scary stuff.
I am going to cut right to the chase in an effort to help steer you onto a road of better health. Below I outline some of the scariest ingredients found in many of those convenience foods that you have come to not only rely on, but also enjoy.
My intention is to open your eyes to the damage that the packaged food industry is causing YOU. They don’t care about you or your health. They pretend to with clever marketing and all kinds of food labeling tricks. But the fact of the matter is that they are selling products with some really scary and downright disgusting ingredients/additives.
Let’s do this, shall we?
I’m going to start with the ingredients that aren’t so obvious. These are things in foods you are consuming that you probably have no clue are in there. These items are not written out in lay-person terms on that nutrition label.

1. Hek 293 (Aborted Human Fetal Kidney Tissue Cells)

Sorry if this one disrupts your day but the fact that FETAL TISSUE is actually used in the creation of ANY consumable product is shocking and appalling on so many levels! Senomyx, the company responsible for this atrocity, states that “the company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products. Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”
What Senomyx is NOT telling  the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from electively aborted babies to produce those receptors. So what products are you consuming that have been developed using fetal tissues?  Head over to this article to find the 19 drinks, and you are probably consuming at least one of.

2. Beaver Anal Glands as Flavoring

The anal glands of a beaver, known in the ingredient labeling world as castoreum, are used to enhance the flavor of raspberry candies and sweets.

3. Beetle Juice in Sprinkles and Candies

You know that shiny coating on candies like Jelly Bellies or Starburst? Or the sprinkles on cupcakes and cookies? That shine is made possible by the secretions of the female lac beetle. The substance is also known as shellac and commonly used as a wood varnish.

4. Crushed Bugs as Red Food Coloring

Carmine or Carmic Acid are pretty common ingredients in most any product with a “non-natural” red hue. How do manufacturers get this beautiful color? They kill thousands of bugs at a time (all varieties) and the dried insects are boiled to produce a liquid solution that can be turned to a dye using a variety of treatments. And trust me, there is nothing healthful about those “treatments.”

5. Coal Tar as Red Food Coloring

Coal tar is listed as number 199 on the United Nations list of “dangerous goods,” but that doesn’t stop people from using it in food. The coloring Allura Red AC is derived from coal tar and is commonly found in red colored candies, sodas, and other sweets.

6. Sheep Secretions in Bubble Gum

The oils inside sheep’s wool are collected to create the goopy substance called lanolin. From there, it ends up in chewing gum (sometimes under the guise of “gum base”), but also is used to create vitamin D3 supplements. Lanolin isn’t the most horrible additive out there but if you are a vegan/vegetarian, you may be unknowingly consuming an animal product.

7. Fertilizer in Bread

While chemical fertilizers inevitably make it into our produce in trace amounts, you would not expect it to be a common food additive. However, ammonium sulfate (a common fertilizer) can be found inside many brands of bread, including all of Subway’s sandwich rolls. The chemical provides nitrogen for the yeast, creating a more consistent product.

8. Human Hair and/or Duck Feathers in Bread Products

Do you love your morning bagel or English muffin? Enjoy that “healthy” whole grain bread? Chances are, it contains either human hair or duck feathers, and it’s your guess as to which. The substance, called L-cysteine or cystine, is used as a dough conditioner to produce a specific consistency. While artificial cysteine is available, it is cost prohibitive and mostly used to create kosher and halal products.

9. Sand

Sand is hidden in all kinds of food products under the innocent name of silicon dioxide. Manufacturers use sand as an “anti-caking agent,” especially with fast foods products that need to last for days and days over a heater.

10. Insect Fragments and Rodent Hair

FDA laws allow for an average of 30 insect fragments per 100 grams of processed peanut butter. In that same half cup of peanut butter, you’ll also find at least one rodent hair (on average).

11. Pink Slime

If you have been paying attention to the news this year, the term “pink slime” may not be news to you. In a nutshell, “pink slime” is the term used for a mixture of beef scraps and connective tissue (formerly used only for pet food and rendering) that is treated with ammonia hydroxide to remove pathogens like salmonella and E coli. These so-called “Lean Beef Trimmings,” are then added back into ground beef products to make it “affordable,” appealing to the consumer’s eye (since it will be a nice, bright, “fresh” pink color), and leaner in fat content.

12. Pink Paste

Before reshaping, foods like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, bologna and pepperoni look like a disgusting sludge of pink paste. This is done through a process called mechanical separation, which is a cost-effective way to “smooth out” bone remnants left after the de-boning process. The process results in excessive bacteria, which is fixed by washing the meat in ammonia. To cover up that delicious ammonia flavor, the meat is then re-flavored artificially and dyed to resemble the type of meat it once was.
Now what about ingredients that you see all the time on labels but that you ignore OR assume are perfectly safe?

13. Genetically Modified Ingredients

Not currently listed on the label because the GMO industry absolutely does not want people to know which foods contain GMOs. Nearly all conventionally grown corn, soy and cotton are GMOs. They’re linked to severe infertility problems and may even cause the bacteria in your body to produce and release a pesticide in your own gut. This is a huge topic and I suggest you read more about it here.

14. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Loaded with “unbound” fructose and glucose molecules, studies have shown that the reactive carbonyl molecules can cause tissue damage that may lead to obesity, diabetes, and also heart disease. HFCS is made from genetically modified corn and processed with genetically modified enzymes. To make matters worse, studies have recently revealed that nearly half of tested samples of HFCS contained mercury.

15. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

A flavor enhancer that tricks your body into thinking there is more protein in the food than is actually there. MSG allows food producers to cut down on the quality and cost while making up for the loss of flavor caused by the omission of real ingredients by adding this flavor enhancer. This nasty stuff is HIDDEN in all kinds of foods that claim to be MSG free! Yeast Extract is the most frequently hidden form of MSG. Find out what else MSG disguises itself as by reading this chart.

16. BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

This common additive used to prevent oxidation in a wide variety of foods and cosmetics is listed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” on the basis of experimental findings in animals. It is also used in jet fuels, rubber petroleum products, transformer oil and embalming fluid. As if this were not enough, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns that BHT should not be allowed to enter the environment, can cause liver damage, and is harmful to aquatic organisms.

17. Phosphoric Acid

This is the acid used in sodas to dissolve the carbon dioxide and add to the overall fizzy-ness of the soda. Phosphoric acid will eat steel nails. It’s also used by stone masons to etch rocks. The military uses it to clean the rust off battleships. In absolutely destroys tooth enamel and wreaks havoc on your gut.

18. Polysorbate 60

Short for polyoxyethylene-(20)- sorbitan monostearate, this emulsifier is widely used in the food industry. Made of made of corn, palm oil and petroleum, this gooey mix can’t spoil, so it often replaces dairy products in baked goods and other liquid products. Did you read that? Petroleum. As in oil!

19. Yellow #5

Almost all colorants approved for use in food are derived from coal tar and may contain up tp 10ppm of lead and arsenic. Also most coal tar colors could potentially cause cancer. Yellow #5 isn’t the only problem food dye. They are ALL bad and ALL linked to very serious health issues, especially in children. Check out this list of foods that contain food dyes.

20. Propylene Glycerol

Think getting that fast food salad is a good idea? To prolong crispness, packaged salads are dusted with Propylene Glycerol, a chemical commonly found in antifreeze. In its concentrated form, the chemical has been known to cause eye and skin irritation.

21. Propylene glycol alginate (E405)

This food thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier is derived from alginic acid esterified and combined with propylene glycol. It is typically used as a food additive but it has many industrial uses including automotive antifreezes and airport runway de-icers.

22. Bacteriophages

Food production companies have long sought ways to combat unhealthy microbes found on processed foods such as lunch meat and hot dogs. A few years ago, the FDA approved the use of bacteriophages (a.k.a. viruses) that help kill these dangerous microbes. Basically, viruses are purposely being added to your food to improve shelf life.

23. Hidden Beef Additives

Many fast food chicken items contain beef additives used to enhance flavor and alter health statistics. Check the ingredients, and you’ll see no sign of beef. That’s because such beef additives are listed as “extract” or “essence.” If you avoid red meat or are a “poultry only” vegetarian, you are actually unknowingly consuming beef.

24. Textured Vegetable Protein

Usually made of soy protein which is extracted from genetically modified soybeans and then processed using hexane, an explosive chemical solvent. It is widely used in vegetarian foods such as “veggie burgers.”