Q&A on the News

—Lois Jones, Peachtree City

A: “Pink slime,” or lean, finely textured beef, as it is called by the meat industry, is made from the beef trimmings, Bloomberg News reported. The trimmings contain pieces of beef and fat, and in order to remove the fat, the beef is heated and spun. Ammonia and water is added to the procedure to raise the pH level and control harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, according to MSNBC.com. A variation of the process uses citric acid, according to the article. It is then ground, made into blocks and frozen before being added to ground beef. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that about 6 percent, or 7 million pounds, purchased for the federal school lunch program, contains “pink slime,” but a USDA spokesman said there are no safety concerns about the product, according to Bloomberg. The meat industry has said that 1.5 million more head of cattle would need to be slaughtered every year to meet the demand, if “pink slime” isn’t added to hamburger, sausage and ground beef, Bloomberg reported. The term “pink slime" was coined by a federal microbiologist and has been in the media at least since 2009, The Associated Press reported. McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell are among the chains that have discontinued their use of products containing “pink slime.”

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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