Sunday, March 15, 2015

NNM Day 12 :: Beware of your (ground) Beef

Just beware.

Hamburgers are awesome. And meatballs. And turkey meatballs. And meatloaf. Where would we be without ground meat? We'd be hungry and/or bored with our meals. I watch a lot of Jamie Oliver videos, and a few years back, he had a show that followed him in his impassioned attempt to bring to light the imminent dangers of America's health crisis; particularly as it relates to school lunches.

In his show, he visited individual schools and tried to spark a little change. Each episode had a segment that had some pretty high shock value. This one, in particular, really grossed me out:

If you haven't watched it-- watch it. Watch it now. Go ahead... I'll wait.

Ok, good.

Let's review:

  • After butchering, the leftover random pieces are (or should be) sent to a rendering plant to be turned into dog food.
  • However, sometimes the leftover meaty bits are put in a centrifuge and separated from the bone/cartilage/gristle. 
  • The tiny meat peaces are washed with ammonia and then ground.
  • Up to 15% of the ammonia/meat mixture can be in your packaged ground beef (and I'm assuming this process is the same or similar for other animals).
  • The USDA has determined the ammonia is not an ingredient, but rather a "process" (I call, bullshit on this one), so therefore does not need to be marked on the label.

Conclusion: Your ground meat can have ammonia and no one has to tell you. Think about all the ground meat products you consume: nuggets from a fast food chain, pre-made meatballs, packaged hamburg...

What I do (and this is part of the reason I am so obnoxious to shop with) is I figure out what is ground in the store and buy that. If I had the money to visit a butcher, I would do that... so for now, knowing that it is ground in store (and likely doesn't have the ammonia mixture) is good enough for me.

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