While looking at my Facebook news feed this morning, I ran across an article that a friend found interesting — Top 10 Scariest Food Additives, by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding. While I certainly applaud their effort, I can think of a few more that should have made the list. Be warned though, if you’re about to eat, you may end up loosing your appetite!
The first food additive that deserves a place in the top 10 is “pink slime”. If you eat ground beef that you didn’t grind yourself, I’d be willing to bet you’ve had the stuff. Essentially, a beef packager can take all the trimmings from a carcass that aren’t useful for anything else, and they can turn them into pink slime. The process involves taking those left-overs that aren’t fit for anything else and separating the meat from the fat. Then the meat is treated with ammonia (to kill pathogens), and it’s added back into finished ground meat products. According to Wikipedia’s article on pink slime, “It rarely comprises more than 25 percent of the final meat product that consumers purchase.” Now you can’t tell me that’s good for us, but what’s scarier is that it doesn’t have to be disclosed because it’s a process and not an ingredient.
Meat glue (transglutaminase) rates pretty high on my list too. This little beauty allows butchers or processors to “glue” beef, lamb, or even chicken scraps into a larger, and usually much more expensive, cut of meat. Meat glue is made from an enzyme in beef or pork blood, and here in the US, nobody has to tell us we’re eating it. What’s worse, butchers are usuually fooled by “prime” cuts that have been produced using meat glue.
To me, though, the scaries part about meat glue is the fact that you could get really sick eating these cuts of meat if they aren’t cooked “well done”. Now, that might not be a problem for some of you, but it is for me because I like my beef rare. If I were to get a T-bone cut from a meat-glued piece of beef, I’d have no way to know that I should cook it to a much higher internal temperature than I would otherwise use. In essence, meat-glued cuts are like groound meat. They have lots of surface area (in the beginning) on which bacteria can grow, but the meat glue hides all that surface area on the inside of your meat. It’d be like eating a rare burger from beef that you didn’t just grind yourself. The pathogen risk is unacceptable, especially since its use isn’t disclosed.
And for those of you who’re thinking, “I’ll just become a vegetarian,”, or, “Thank goodness I don’t eat meat,”, I’ll share this little treasure.
Yes, that’s right, scientists expect people to eat plastic to make rice go further! And you can bet that if they pull that one off, it’ll start happening here too, and of course, nobody will bother telling us about it.
The moral to this food additive horror show, in my view, is two-fold. Cook from whole hoods as often as you can, and get your butt in gear and GROW something safe and tasty for you and your family. Even reading labels won’t keep us safe from dangerous food production practices. And since those of us who have less money for food often buy things that are likely to be more poisoned, we put ourselves at risk by something as simple as sitting down to a meal with family. So let’s eat fresh, let’s eat local, and let’s help those we care about to do the same.