Top 8 Myths of “Pink Slime”

The media has been spreading a lot of myths about what “pink slime” is. The image spreading on the internet is not beef. Read more about the top 8 myths of pink slime below.

Myth 1:

Boneless lean beef trimmings look like pink slime.


The photo many media have used to represent pink slime is not boneless lean beef trimmings.

Boneless lean beef trimmings actually looks like this.
Boneless lean beef trimmings actually looks like this.

Myth 2:

“Boneless lean beef trimmings” or “lean finely textured beef” which have recently been called “pink slime,” are just “fillers” and not beef at all.


As their real names suggest, boneless lean beef trimmings are 100% USDA inspected beef.  Imagine trimming fat from a roast or steak.  There’s always some meat that is trimmed with the fat.  It is this meat, trimmed from the fat, which becomes boneless lean beef trimmings.  When you compare the nutrition analysis of this lean beef with 90% lean/10% fat ground beef, they are virtually identical.  That’s because boneless lean beef trim is beef – period.

Myth 3:

Ground beef produced with boneless lean beef trimmings is less nutritious than other ground beef.


A side-by-side comparison of nutrition labels for 90% lean/10% fat ground beef demonstrates this lean beef has substantially identical nutritional value as 90% lean ground beef.  Lean ground beef is low in fat and is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.

Myth 4:

Boneless lean beef trimmings are produced from inedible meat.


Boneless lean beef trimmings are 100% edible meat.  These trimmings are simply the lean beef removed from the meat and fat that is trimmed away when beef is cut into steaks and roasts.  The meat in these trimming is nearly impossible to separate with a knife so, historically, this product only could be used in cooked beef products when the fat was cooked and separated for tallow.  But now there is a process that separates the fat from the fresh lean beef, and it is this fresh lean beef that can be used in ground meat foods like hamburger and sausages.  No process exists that could somehow make an inedible meat edible.

Myth 5:

Dangerous chemicals are added to boneless lean beef trimmings.


This is a reference to ammonium hydroxide, essentially ammonia and water, both naturally occurring compounds that have been used to make foods safe since 1974, when the Food and Drug Administration declared it GRAS or Generally Recognized as Safe, the highest safety attribution the agency assigns to compounds.  Boneless lean beef trimmings receive a puff of ammonia to eliminate bacteria safely and effectively.  When combined with moisture naturally in beef, ammonium hydroxide is formed, which is a naturally occurring compound found in many foods, in our own bodies and the environment. Food safety experts and scientists agree it is an effective way to ensure safer ground beef.

Myth 6:

Food safety advocates are concerned about the safety of boneless lean beef trimmings.


Scientists, advocates and plaintiff’s lawyers, who in many cases are critical of the beef industry, have all stepped forward to praise Beef Products Inc. and its efforts at food safety.

Myth 7:

Because ammonium hydroxide is an ingredient, ground beef containing boneless lean beef trimmings should be labeled.


Ammonium hydroxide is not an ingredient added to the product – rather, the product receives a puff of ammonia to eliminate bacteria safely and effectively.  When combined with moisture naturally in beef, ammonium hydroxide is formed, which is a naturally occurring compound found in many foods including baked goods, cheese, chocolate, and puddings, in our own bodies and the environment. It is used in the production of each of these foods as a processing aid and not an ingredient, so not “on the label” of those foods either.  It is safe and has been approved by FDA since 1974 and specifically approved for its food safety benefits in beef processing since 2001

Myth 8:

Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is “filler” for ground beef.


Many in the media have begun to describe Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) as “filler” for ground beef.  This is factually inaccurate.  Meat fillers include cereals, legumes, vegetable, roots and tubers, and may not be used in anything carrying the term “ground beef” due to its standard of identity.  On the other hand, LFTB is an end product made from boneless lean beef trimming, the very same beef that is processed into roasts and steaks for retailers and restaurants.  These trimmings are simply small pieces of beef with fat attached.

The boneless lean beef trimmings become “finely textured” using high-technology food processing equipment that resembles a large, high-speed mixing bowl, in which they are warmed to help separate away the fat so that only the beef remains.  The result is a high-quality beef product and is at least 90 percent lean.

LFTB is blended into ground beef, which is required by law to be made exclusively from beef.  It has not been labeled as a separate ingredient because it is 100 percent beef.  It is not an additive or filler.  In fact, to label it as anything but beef would raise truth-in-labeling questions.


Categories: Media Misconceptions

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