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Where’s The Beef?

by Clinton Fein on March 23, 2012

in Clinton Fein,Health,News

Post image for Where’s The Beef?

Spake American Meat Institute, President J. Patrick Boyle: “Lean finely textured beef is blended into foods like ground beef. Producing BLBT ensures that lean, nutritious, safe beef is not wasted in a world where red meat protein supplies are decreasing while global demand is increasing as population and income increases.”

Oh, the economic and income-equality infused altruism.

“Lean finely textured beef” is the euphemistic, Orwellian term for that nasty “pink slime” that even McDonalds stopped serving in their burgers (but that Obama’s U.S. Department of Agriculture serves to kids for school lunch). Following a collective hissy fit by parents in the wake of a spate of pink slime stories, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that starting this fall, schools will be able to choose whether or not they buy hamburger that contains pink slime. That’s great. So now only schools that can’t afford to opt out (it costs more) will serve the economically disadvantaged kids the pink shit.

And brands, like Safeway, that should have known better are dropping it like it’s radioactive. Maybe because that’s how it looks.

Remember Bush’s pollution-regulation-killing Clean Air Act? It’s like calling AMI’s J.Patrick Boyle a slick, trustworthy emissary of unadulterated information to enlighten consumers. Well that’s what the label says – why would one bother with a label that calls him a slimy, fraudulent, bullshit-peddling, asshole spreading confusion to profit the meat industry?

So what if the process uses “food grade” ammonium hydroxide gas to destroy bacteria? Food grade ammonia? Is that like edible crude oil cutlets?

“Whatever process is used, it is all done under the watchful eye of USDA inspectors and according to strict federal rules,” reassured the Boyle. Conveniently using the USDA as an endorsement of sorts. (Just a year ago he excoriated the USDA who he accused of having “gone well beyond congressional intent by proposing restrictive [aka honest] marketing requirements and new enforcement standards [aka compliance].)”

“Pink slime” – the “colloquial” term for “edible beef” according to Boyle — “ensures that our products remain as affordable as we can make them.” Short of packaging ammonia-treated cowshit in “sustainable” styrofoam, slapping on an “Organic” sticker and calling it “natural brown mash.”

Another shill for the meat industry, AMI spokeswoman, Janet Riley got all Donald Rumsfeld about the whole thing. “What are you asking me to put on the label, its beef, it’s on the label, it’s a beef product, it’s says beef so we are declaring … it’s beef,” she said. She also expects to be taken seriously with her Twitter moniker “queenofwien.” Nope, I’m not making this up.

The USDA inspector who deemed “pink slime” beefy enough to be called beef without requiring any labeling of any kind is former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. After her USDA stint she went on to become a member of the board of directors of a major supplier for BPI, the makers of pink slime, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years.

The recent furor over Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic remarks calling women who use birth control “sluts” and “prostitutes” is only just dying down (although advertisers haven’t returned…yet). But the word “prostitute” is also used metaphorically to describe “debasing oneself or working towards an unworthy cause.” It is not gender specific. One thinks J. Richard Boyle. Or Joanne Smith. Or the Queen of Wien, Janet Riley.

Meanwhile, as pink slime begins sullying brands quicker than an e-coli epidemic, don’t expect the meat industry to just roll over and play dead. Remember Oprah?

Lean finely textured euphemisms aside, if it looks and talks and smells like a gross mash-up of “beef,” ammonia and whatever other “edible” additives make it a revolting slimy pink, guess what?


Image via Beef Products Inc.


Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-​known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoy​.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.” Fein’s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.

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YBH92 March 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm

So much hate in this article …

Ronnie_in_Va March 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

There is a really easy fix for this whole problem. Force the USDA to quit the over-regulation of small growers and get to know your farmer. I've been growing the vast majority of my own food for years now, but I commit a federal offense if I sell my neighbor a pound of beef or a dozen eggs. He see's how I raise my food, he can inspect my small farm anytime he wants, but the USDA regulations are aimed at keeping big agribusiness in control and are so cost prohibitive I cannot hope to ever comply with them.

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