Ammonia used in many foods, not just "pink slime"

Comments (22)
jyee wrote:

“what the meat industry calls “finely textured beef” … Used as a filler for ground beef, it is made from fatty trimmings.

Actually, it’s more commonly LFTB, LEAN finely textured beef, which is not fatty. There’s a lot of extremely lean meat left attached to bone after typical butchering. LFTB is a way to reclaim that meat and use it instead of letting it go to waste. It’s simply a byproduct of America’s demand to only eat steaks with an occasional roast or ribs, while ignoring the vast majority of an animal.

Apr 05, 2012 9:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Scunnerous wrote:

Ammonia is not “made up of nitrogen and hydrogen”, any more than cyanide would be “made up of” carbon and nitrogen. Both are compounds of their respective common elements; one is relatively innocuous though with an objectionable smell – the other is a potent poison.

Apr 05, 2012 12:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
txgadfly wrote:

A big part of the problem is that the US Government agency charged with protecting the public food supply, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), is more interested in keeping good relations with giant food and pharmaceutical companies than in requiring honest and complete labeling of food and honest and complete classification of drugs. It is not “consumer” or “citizen” friendly, but industry friendly. In other words, like much of the Federal Government, you cannot trust it.

Why are genetically modified foods and food ingredients not labeled in the USA when they are labeled in the European Union and Japan? Why are an increasing number of raw grains grown in the USA not exportable to those markets? Why does our own Government force us to buy genetically modified foods that are not labeled so that the consumer knows what they are buying? It looks very much as if we have a food supply that is tainted, unreliable, and unhealthy and that those practices are deliberately concealed from US citizens by their own Government.

Apr 06, 2012 8:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:

The Chemical factory I worked at produced 50 million pounds a year of ammonium phosphates which was used in many different food products.

We also made products such as TSP(Tri-sodium-phosphate) which is a famous driveway cleaner and also went into products such as cheese.

But adding ammonium phosphates to Road Kill does nor make an appealing product to consumers even though it may be safe to eat.

Apr 06, 2012 9:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
matthewslyman wrote:

Ammonia is NOT the only issue. At issue is also why meat companies are allowed to add water and oils to meat without declaring that on the ingredients list either – as long as the amount of water and fat in the final product is less than a proportion agreed with the government…

In response to txgadfly’s excellent remarks:
“The Future of Food”: A documentary on the unsavoury practices of the genetically modified organism (GMO) industry…

Apr 06, 2012 9:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse

txgadfly – They aren’t labeled because no one has been able to show any material differences between GMOs and organics, at least from a health perspective.

If people know how the vast majority of their food was made, they’d probably never eat again. This includes organics. You can still “mechanically separate” an all natural chicken.

Apr 06, 2012 10:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
EJN wrote:

The article completely misses the point of why people are grossed out and angry. Nobody cares that they used ammonia. What they care about is they used ammonia to try to make meat that was unsafe for a dog to eat get by the minimum standards. Then, they cheated us by sneaking this cheaper filler into meat we were paying top dollar for.

Apr 06, 2012 10:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Eric93 wrote:

What I also find disturbing, and which actually makes me ill, is the toxic packaging materials used here in the US. I do not get ill when I buy my mats in Greece, so whatever wrap the butcher uses is obviously safe, or safer than here. Even the stuff used at so-called ‘organic’ foods stores like Whole Foods I find some of their wraps toxic to me. But the worst is the ‘aborbant’ plastic at the bottom of styrene food trays used in supermarkets. That stuff makes me wretchedly ill and I no longer buy from meat from these stores. And washing the meat doesn’t seem to help. And what is worse is to see Whole Foods moving towards this sort of packaging. I bought a pork tenderloin rcently that was shrink wrapped in a plastic ‘condom’ and despite washing it and scraping it I got wretchedly ill that night, with a burning sensation in my throat and nausea. No more! If this continues, I’ll be forced to either leave this country or go vegetarian.

Apr 06, 2012 11:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
txgadfly wrote:


No one has proven that genetically modified foods are safe either. Every horror that was approved by the FDA, including thalidomide, was approved because no one could prove that it was not “safe”.

I want the right to know what I am buying. I do not want hidden ingredients or hidden processes sold to me without my knowledge and without my consent. As the customer, I want the right to make an informed choice. That is fundamental and a right people in other “advanced” countries have. I want it. I do not care if some company can’t flim flam some profitable product that I do not want to buy.

This incident will cost billions and billions for American companies and will create a market in European labelled imported food in the USA. Stupid, stupid, stupid. You do not have to agree with me. But then I do not have to buy your products either. Guess who loses?

Apr 06, 2012 12:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mottleyfrog wrote:

Certainly the pink slime meat was healthier than the meat it was combined with.

Apr 06, 2012 1:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SeaWa wrote:

I agree that we should eat as much of the animal as possible, otherwise it goes to waste. N’est-ce pas? However, ammonia? Unless it’s assured that is leaves no chemical trace and completely evaporates before eating, then I don’t want any.

How about irradiating food for safety? Other non-chemical means to cleaning and preserving food? Perhaps consuming ammonia is part of our natural food chain? We simply need more information.

Apr 06, 2012 1:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
NukerDoggie wrote:

@EJN: Thanks very much for pointing out that the article entirely misses the point (not unusual for Reuters). It’s the filthy, bacteria-infested “trimmings” that are the key issue, not the ammonia itself.

What are those “trimmings” that have to be “made safe” by ‘ammoniafication’? Go ahead – let you imagination run free here – because just about no matter what you imagine, it’s not going to be far off the mark. I’ve personally toured several meat processing plants around the country and I know what’s in those “trimmings”. By the way – I’m no veggy. I’m a meat-and-potatos guy who eats meat at every meal – no exception.

Recall what this crap (ground beef with pink slime) smells like when you start to fry it up in a pan? I have to leave the room else I feel like hurling. Go ahead and buy ground beef certified no pink slime – just pure ground beef from ‘normal’ parts. The aroma when frying it is wonderful. Let you nose be your guide. Works with fish. Good for beef too.

Reuters – get your heads on straight and quit being apologists for the greedy meat industry.

Apr 06, 2012 1:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SeaWa wrote:

@nukerdoggie – I have to admit, I remember browning hamburger decades ago and it smelled wonderful! I’ve noticed over the last few years that browning hamburger has a little bit of a toilet smell. These days I just want to get it cooked and hope it doesn’t mess up the meal.

Apr 06, 2012 1:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
hyperlux wrote:

GMOs are going to go the way of DDT – it’s just a question of when. And as was noted in comments above, Europe has already banned GMOs from foods. The reason Monsanto doesn’t allow labeling here? “You might as well put a skull-and-crossbones on the label” – a quote from one of their execs. They won’t be able to market it very well after US states get on the bandwagon and require lables for GMOs.

The funny thing about the examples given in the Reuter article – Wonder Bread and Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli, Chips Ahoy cookies and Velveeta cheese – the foods I ate as a kid. But now I am grown, and acquainted with real bread, actual cheese and ravioli, I find those products to be impalatable! They are so many incarnations away from good-tasting food that it’s hardly surprising to hear that various ammonium compounds go into the mix.

As well noted in the above comments – we have let these corporations carry on for too long with the role of being our providers. It’s time to re-assess our methods of distribution – we are not so much the breadbasket of the world so much as the Evil Queen holding forth tainted fruit.

Apr 06, 2012 2:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobw7s6 wrote:

This article seems to be written by the Pink Slime Association trying to repair the damage that was done to their product. the finely textured beef that the industry calls it, or pink slime which is a better name for it, was only acceptable to be used in the manufacture of Dog Food until the Republicans changed the regulations which now allows it for human consumption. This finely textured beef is comprised of every piece of scrap meat and thrown into a pot to be cooked into a paste and then pressed a grater to give it the look and texture of ground beef. In other words your eating dog food and paying a high price for garbage to eat.

Apr 06, 2012 2:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
daballa wrote:

Wether’s candy has ammonia in it!

Apr 06, 2012 3:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GSH10 wrote:

There’s more to the problem than ammonia. Beef filled with sraps we should not eating is. Should it become known that cheese or chocolate have beef cartilage mixed in, that would be a game changer.

Apr 06, 2012 4:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SimpleMinds wrote:

Ahh … Here comes the officially sanctioned CYA article for the mainstream media. Ok morons, go back to stuffing your faces with our toxic crap that we sell you day in and day out. Nothing to see here. We can’t crash the ‘Big Food’ industry! back to reality. This pink slime story is many years in the making. The fact that it made it to main stream media is a miracle. Now of course they’re going to tell you that “everything is ok” … Ammonia is in everything. Go back to watching American Idol and eating Pepperoni and stfu. I say wtfu! That’s wake tfu … and smell what they’re shovelling

Apr 06, 2012 5:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SimpleMinds wrote:

Ever wonder why this article only has 17 comments? Can you say ‘Big Brother’? I knew you could

Apr 06, 2012 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
fljohn wrote:

Simple. Don’t buy processed food. People, look at your labels!! Don’t be gullible. If you don’t know what the ingredients are, do research. That’s what google is for. We have the power to put the food and chemical industry in bankruptcy for poisoning the American public. When are we going to realize that there are many other “pink slime” corporations out there robbing us of our health. Asthma is on the rise/childhood obesity, autism, etc. Go for natural cleaning supplies like vinegar/baking soda, borax. Stop buying poisonous chemical laundry detergents/dryer sheets. The cancer causing chemicals in them is outrageous! Wake up people!! We are being poisoned to death.

Apr 06, 2012 6:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Dankness wrote:

The media seems to be mistaking what people actually are outraged about. It is not the fact that it is treated with ammonia gas, it is the fact that we were mislead into thinking we are buying and consuming something that we are not. ‘We’ as consumers demand that we are told exactly the truth about what we are buying. Therefore LFTB must be labelled on products that it, not just “beef”. I would not choose to eat that part of an animal, and would not ever assume someone would want to eat it either. No sane person would call that part of the cow “beef” or even “meat” for that matter. I have no problem with it being in the market, but I demand the right to know what I am buying, and if I chose not to buy it, that is my prerogative.

Apr 10, 2012 12:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
DavidTerry wrote:

You state, “fatty trimmings that are more susceptible to contamination than other cuts of beef, and are therefore sprayed with ammonium hydroxide” but I was able to do real research and found the trimmings are from “meat and fat remaining after larger cuts of beef have been “trimmed” to meet customer specifications”. Also, I found USDA-confirmed information stating the process was approved without ammonia. It was the company’s decision to start using ammonia in 1993 after four children died from E. coli during the Jack in the Box outbreak.
So, LFTB is made from the same trim as when my wife wants me to cut the fat off the edges of her steak, and Ammonia is used to make sure my children don’t die from foodborne illness.
I hope in the future you do complete research for your articles, and I look forward to reading future articles from you.

Apr 11, 2012 8:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.