WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Pink Slime in ground beef - who has it & who doesn't

Posted March 22, 2012

In the last few weeks, consumers have been enlightened about the controversial contents of ground beef sold at various grocery stores, fast food restaurants and even in school lunches. Because of the uproar, many stores have taken meat processed with lean finely textured beef off the shelf. Here's the word from various area grocery stores about whether their ground beef includes this controversial filler called "pink slime."

The issue is that the product known as "pink slime" includes cow parts that are often close to the hide and may have more fecal contamination.  In order to kill the germs more prevalent in these trimmings, they are sprayed with ammonia gas. The USDA says that the food sprayed with ammonia is safe to eat. Many consumers, including parents who have kids eating pink slime in school lunches, are not comfortable with ammonia sprayed beef trimmings.

I contacted Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, Food Lion and Kroger. Of those four stores, Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods responded to my inquiry yesterday. Kroger got back to me today (3/22).  Here are their responses:

Kroger Update: A rep for Kroger just called me to let me know that Kroger, in response to customer feedback, will stop selling the meat processed with lean finely textured beef.  I'll have the official press release for you in a couple hours, but thought you would want to know!

Harris Teeter: "Harris Teeter's own brand suppliers do not use ‘pink slime’ in any Harris Teeter Brands ground beef including Harris Teeter Naturals, Rancher and Angus ground beef products. "

Lowes Foods: "Our meat department indicated that over 90 percent of our fresh grinds are produced from fresh cut beef that we produce. On occasion to meet our demands we do buy some ground beef from large beef producers. These grinds may contain lean, finely textured beef approved by the USDA."

Yesterday, ABC news released an article that indicated that Food Lion will stop selling beef processed with the pink slime.  {a href="external_link-1"}} Click HERE {{/a}} for the story.

The article also mentioned that Walmart and Sam's Club would start offering beef that does not have the filler.

The most frustrating aspect for many consumers is that stores are not required to inform you if their meat contains lean finely textured beef and the packages do not indicate if it is included.

The good news is that it appears that meat marked organic does not have this filler.

Basically, if you want to make sure your ground beef does not include pink slime, have the butcher grind up a roast for you while you wait or grind your own at home. Keep in mind that you do not know what was last ground at the grocery store that your roast may still come into contact with when ground on their machine. 

What are your thoughts on enjoying a pink slime burger?

Should the USDA have approved this filler?

Should stores be required to indicate which products contain lean finely textured beef?



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  • aewagner87 Mar 23, 2012

    I am going to start either getting my meat from wholes food or going through someone who owns a farm that I work with. I cooked some hamb meat the other day and noticed that it looked/felt odd. Now I am absolutley horrified to learn that this is endorced by the FDA and there isnt any type of label necessary. I have crossed hamb meat off my list until I can make sure 100% I am not eating this gross mixture.

  • sef1528 Mar 23, 2012

    Laura's Lean beef doesn't have it either. I contacted them earlier this week. I will not allow my children to eat at McD's or another other fast food and have beef. I know they all came out and said they will no longer use it, but that was just in Jan...what about all those frozen beef patties?? I am more careful on what to buy hopefully stay within budget with organic and local meat farmers. The same goes for poultry too...with the mechanically separated meat!!

  • blazencattlecompany Mar 23, 2012

    I have been in the cattle business for over 20 years and the word organic means 30 days off feed. Of course your large chain stores would push organic because they can get a higher price for the meat. My concern for the consumer would be if it is already prepacked then how can you prove what is in the the burger? If it does not come off of a whole beef carcass than anything can be added such as gas to pack the meat. Another question would be where does the meat come from and how long did the parts of the meat ride in a box on a delivery truck before the chuck roll or sirloin was ground at the store. Fresh butchery is the best result for all meat.

  • queene01 Mar 23, 2012

    I have a call into Carlie C's (IGA) - I just bought a lot of hamburger to stock up (1.93 a lb!) - will update you all asap!

  • readit Mar 23, 2012

    I have seen behind closed door of both Lowes Food and Food lion, I would just like to say I don't buy ANY meat from food lion. Lowes Food is amazing in the meat products they provide, sometimes if its not brought in from a main location then they grind it there. If you ask them to grind a roast, when the meat associates are working and are trained, they will. Food lion, no way they wouldn't do that, all their ground meat comes from tube rolls anyway.

  • lbnikko Mar 22, 2012

    I have Kitchen Aid grinder. So far I have only ground chicken, yes chicken. We have been cutting back, but not totally out. It is wonderful! Fast even at half speed. I would highly recomend it if you are thinking about getting one.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 22, 2012

    Part 2 Kroger:

    Thanks again for your honest feedback on this matter. Your feedback matters greatly to us. We sincerely hope you will continue to consider us the preferred grocer for you and your family.


    The Kroger Facebook Team

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 22, 2012

    Check your Facebook account for Kroger:

    We have listened to your concerns that the use of lean finely textured beef - while fully approved by the USDA for safety and quality - is something you do not want in ground beef. You are our top priority and for that reason we have decided to stop purchasing ground beef that contains lean finely textured beef.

    We are working with suppliers to accomplish this in a timely fashion. In the meantime, we would like to remind you that our stores are currently stocked with a variety of ground beef products that do not contain lean finely textured beef, if you choose to avoid it. These options include:

    * Kroger's Private Selection Angus Ground Chuck, Round and Sirloin * Private Selection All Natural Ground Beef * Private Selection Organic Ground Beef solid in 1 lb. packages (labeled 80% lean and above) * Laura's Lean Ground Beef * All ground beef prepared in store Continued...

  • blazencattlecompany Mar 22, 2012

    You can like us on facebook. Our butcher shop's name is Blazen Cattle Company, LLC and you can see our pics of recent carcasses. A pic is worth a thousand words. If you don't know your farmer or your livestock grower than anything can be added to your food. Our motto is local meat can't be beat. Know your farmer know your food. If you want a healthy body it starts with what you feed it. I like to be able to ride to the pasture and see the animal grazing the way God intented them to be raised. Yes, it may take longer but the end result is a healthy animal for consumption.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 22, 2012

    I personally put Kroger at the top of my list of grocery chains. I was pleased to learn recently that Forbes does too when I learned that
    Forbes named Kroger Number One Among America’s Most Generous Companies.


    "At a time when many companies are downsizing and looking for ways to trim budgets, some have stepped forward to donate a significant chunk of their profits to charity. The Kroger Co. was recently named number one in a Chronicle of Philanthropy listing detailed in Forbes Magazine that recognizes American companies that give back the most..."

    Try to keep in mind that most grocers were on an even playing field with "pink slime" when ABC broke this story.