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.
- 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.