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Ammonia-Treated Beef Pulled From School Lunches, Fast Food

Beef Products, Inc. discovered injecting waste meat with ammonia killed dangerous germs, making it safe to eat. That made it an economical option for fast food.


Photo: ShaolinWorldwide (flickr)

McDonald's was one of the fast food chains to stop selling Beef Products' meat.

The meat served in school lunch burgers have had something in common with glass cleaner — ammonia.

‘Pink Slime’

South Dakota company Beef Products, Inc. began injecting ground beef with ammonia to kill salmonella and E. coli. The process made bits of meat like trimmings, that were more likely to become contaminated, safe to eat.

The USDA championed the efforts and stopped routine food-borne bacteria checks of Beef Products’ meat.

All was not well — E. coli had been found three times and salmonella 48 since 2005, prompting the USDA to start inspecting Beef Products’ beef.

In an email from an Agriculture Department microbiologist, the beef was called “pink slime.”

Major suppliers like McDonald’s and Burger King have been flooded with questions after reports showed they used Beef Products’ treated, low-grade meat.


McDonald’s and Taco Bell have both stopped using the meat.

Beef Products stands behind their meat — they point out no illness has even been traced to them.

Read More:

  • Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned (New York Times)
  • Questions, perception prompt burger chains to ditch product (Argus Leader)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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