By GreatSchools Staff
The culprit? Ammonia-treated "pink slime."
In a 2009 article, the New York Times delved into reports that the company that contributes to most of the fast food chains in the country as well as the federal school lunch program — Beef Products Inc. — had inefficient methods of treating their beef to rid it of E.coli and salmonella. BPI had developed a revolutionary method of treating beef trimmings with ammonia to render them safe for human consumption, but after complaints of the beef smelling strongly of ammonia, the company decreased the levels of ammonia in the treating process, thus making it less effective. The United States Department of Agriculture accepted studies by the company that certainly "beefed up" results and excused BPI meat from recalls, even when it was found in contaminated meat.
In response, BPI has launched a massive testing for poisonous strains of E.coli (only one strand is required by law; BPI is now testing for six others) in July of 2011. As test results are still not in and pathogens in meat keep evolving and, carnivores might do well to proceed with caution when chowing down at a barbeque or fast food chain. To help protect the public, the USDA published a 2010 report with 14 recommendations for how the industry can make beef safer, many of which have yet to be implemented.
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