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Is 'pink slime' the real issue?
We can't help but wonder if there are parallels between the new "pink slime" controversy and the ongoing battle over the Keystone XL pipeline.
We joined the call for safeguarding the Ogallala Aquifer, which is Nebraska's greatest natural resource, but once the Obama administration, backed into a corner by the Republicans, disapproved the route, the true nature of the opposition made itself apparent.
Opponents used the aquifer as a red herring to disguise their real goal, stopping oil shale development altogether.
The plan now is for the Nebraska legislature to approve a new route missing the spots where the aquifer is close to the surface in the Sandhills, and for that route to be resubmitted to the feds for approval.
The alternative to expanded domestic -- or at least North American -- oil supplies is continued dependance on unstable sources of foreign oil, and high gasoline prices that hurt those who are least able to afford them.
Now, along with a new study that purportedly finds an increased probability of death through consumption of even moderate amounts of red meat, comes a new controversy over the addition of so called "pink slime" to ground beef.
You've probably seen the Internet photo, of what looks like the pink skinned body of a boa constrictor, used in connection with the additive, but that photo is actually mechanically separated chicken.
Beef Products Inc., which produces the lean finely textured beef being derided as "pink slime," argues that their product is 100 percent USDA inspected beef that is actually 90 percent lean/10 fat percent beef.
To prevent contamination, and massive recalls, associated with e coli and other bacteria, processors puff the meat with ammonia, which combines with moisture to create ammonium hydroxide to kill the microbes.
The processor responds to criticism by pointing out that the same substance is found in baked goods, cheese, chocolate, pudding, in our own bodies and in the environment, and has been used safely since it was approved by the FDA in 1974.
Beef Products Inc. makes the point that its product recovers lean meat that would otherwise go to waste.
"The beef industry is proud to produce beef products that maximizes as much lean meat as possible from the cattle we raise," according to its website. "If this beef is not used in fresh ground beef products, approximately 1.5 million additional head of cattle would need to be harvested annually to make up the difference, which is not a good use of natural resources, or modern technology, in a world where red meat consumption is rising and available supply is declining."
The truth is, too many consumers have no idea where their meal comes from, and what it takes to put it on their plate.
Like the Keystone XL, we suspect "pink slime" is being opposed by those who don't want to see us use the product -- red meat -- at all.