McDonald's drops use of 'pink slime' in hamburger meat

Posted at 02/02/12 12:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - McDonald's, the world's leading fast food chain, announced that it has stopped using ammonia-treated beef in its hamburger products.

British tabloid Daily Mail recently reported that McDonald's made the move as a response to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's campaign against the use of technically discarded beef cuts treated with ammonium hydroxide, which he called "pink slime."

But the company denied that its decision was influenced by Oliver's campaign, according to msnbc.com.

In a statement, McDonald's said it has stopped using what the company called "select lean beef trimmings" in its hamburgers since the beginning of last year.

"At the beginning of 2011, we made a decision to discontinue the use of ammonia-treated beef in our hamburgers. This product has been out of our supply chain since August of last year," McDonald's said.

"This decision was a result of our efforts to align our global standards of how we source beef around the world. We are always reviewing and evolving our standards to ensure we continue to serve safe, high-quality food to our consumers," it added.

Oliver, who stars in his own television show "Food Revolution," has been campaigning to get school cafeterias and fast food chains in the United States to stop using "pink slime."

In an episode, he demonstrated how he imagined the pink goo is formed.

"They take all these trimmings, all the stuff that you pay to get taken away. They put it into a centrifuge and they spin it. Now what does that do? It separates the fat from the meat. And then you end up with stuff like this," he said in the episode, showing bits of meat.

"To me as a chef and a food lover, this is shocking... The key ingredient to the process is ammonia. We're gonna wash these lean bits of beef that we've spun around there with an ammonia and water solution... That kills the E. Coli and salmonella and any other pathogens.

"And then they drain it, and then mince it."

The use of ammonia-treated beef has been approved by the US Department of Agriculture, saying that it is "generally recognized as safe." Oliver claims that the "pink slime" is currently in 70% of US beef.

"The only solution I could give you is the only way you could use ground beef. It's by watching the butcher grind it in front of you," Oliver said in the "Food Revolution" episode.