The recent media frenzy surrounding revelations about “finely textured beef”, affectionately known as PINK SLIME, has proven definitively that consumer outrage can cause even the largest food companies in the world to change their ways.
What began as a social media campaign has resulted in the bankruptcy filing by its major producer, a commitment by some of the largest fast food chains in the nation to ban its use, and outrage at the National School Lunch program for considering its purchase. In case you are unaware, the deceptively named “Finely Textured Beef” that we are discussing is a toxic concoction made from left over beef bits and mechanically separated connective tissues which is then disinfected with Ammonia. Yes, you read it correctly, Ammonia. A nice simple description from Wikipedia says it all, “Although in wide use, ammonia is both caustic and hazardous.” Anyone still think it belongs in our food? Also from Wiki, we learn that, “ In the U.S., beef can be labeled “100 percent ground beef” even if it contains up to 15 percent pink slime.” And finally, from the news wire, we discover that 70% of supermarket ground beef contains Pink Slime. So not only is is “caustic and hazardous,” it is also lurking practically everywhere you see ground beef in use.
Enter the widespread media campaign disseminating the truth about this additive and the industry simply folded their hand. See Social media turn up heat on food industry – chicagotribune.com. When seen in the bright light of day, industry didn’t even put up a fight to save this obviously huge and lucrative business. Now, we can be sure that they will try to re-brand, re-package this nonsense and send it right back into the food supply, however, the lesson has been learned. Consumer demand and outrage can cause even the biggest players in industry to change their ways.
This coincides perfectly with my position regarding creating change in the industry. As I have been saying, if we demand it, industry will deliver, or stop delivering, as the case may be. After all, negative publicity cuts into profits, so businesses will do what they need to do to protect their revenue. If that means delivering something healthier or removing a problem additive, they will do it. Remember, they have no vested interested in almost any of these chemicals, rather, they use them because they can. Once we demand better, they will deliver that, guaranteed. Industry can be viewed as the villain, or they can be viewed as a willing partner in the process of change. If we use our leverage to voice our concern about problem additives, they will do their best to deliver a product that meets our demands.
So, let PINK SLIME be a lesson in the simple power of the consumer to change the marketplace. And let us use take this opportunity to understand that there really are very toxic chemicals entering our food supply simply because we have not educated ourselves and demanded better. The people of Industry are hard working Americans just like you and me that will do the right thing if they are held to it.