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A chemically treated beef by-product that was recently removed from fast food restaurants is still being served in school cafeterias:

The "slime" consists of beef by-products: cow intestines, connective tissue and other parts that are not used in traditional beef cuts.

Those parts are more susceptible to E. coli and salmonella contamination, so the last ingredient to the "pink slime" is ammonium hydroxide, which kills that bacteria.

McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King all decided in January they would stop using the "pink slime" in their food after pressure...

This type of meat is more likely to be contaminated than regular cuts:

The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

In July, school lunch officials temporarily banned their hamburger makers from using meat from a Beef Products facility in Kansas because of salmonella — the third suspension in three years, records show. Yet the facility remained approved by the U.S.D.A. for other customers.

A former USDA scientist is so disgusted by the practice that he now grinds his own meat:
Gerald Zirnstein grinds his own hamburger these days. Why? Because this former United States Department of Agriculture scientist and, now, whistleblower, knows that 70 percent of the ground beef we buy at the supermarket contains something he calls “pink slime.”

“Pink slime” is beef trimmings. Once only used in dog food and cooking oil, the trimmings are now sprayed with ammonia so they are safe to eat and added to most ground beef as a cheaper filler.

It was Zirnstein who, in an USDA memo, first coined the term “pink slime” and is now coming forward to say he won’t buy it.

“It’s economic fraud,” he told ABC News. “It’s not fresh ground beef. … It’s a cheap substitute being added in.”

The symptoms of poisoning from ammonium hydroxide are the following:
Airways and lungs
  • Breathing difficulty (from inhalation)
  • Coughing
  • Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty)
  • Wheezing

Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
  • Severe pain in the throat
  • Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
  • Vision loss

Esophagus, stomach, and intestines
  • Blood in the stool
  • Burns of the esophagus (food pipe) and stomach
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood

Heart and blood
  • Collapse
  • Low blood pressure (develops rapidly)
  • Severe change in pH (too much or too little acid in the blood, which leads to damage in all of the body organs)

Skin
  • Burns
  • Holes in skin tissue (necrosis)
  • Irritation
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