'Pink Slime' and other weird food additives 4/12
(This article is adapted from the April issue of ShopSmart magazine.)
"Pink Slime" isn’t the only strange meat filler used by the food industry. Here's a basic description of the slime along with eight more additives that may sound pretty unappetizing, but actually are edible, according to the experts.
Beef trimmings are ground and then gassed with ammonia to kill any pathogens. The trimmings, sometimes called "lean finely textured beef" (or LFTB) are then added to ground beef as a filler. This is the "pink slime" that went viral on the Internet earlier this year. In fact, McDonald’s hasn’t used the stuff in its burgers since last August. Still, one wonders how many other fast food burgers remain "slimed." As for raw ground beef in the supermarket, the USDA says that beef can be labeled "100 percent ground beef" even if it contains up to 15 percent pink slime. Only if a USDA Organic label is present can consumers know that the beef contains no pink slime.
A newer form of food preservative, this funky-sounding additive actually contains viruses. It’s sprayed onto ready-to-eat meat and poultry products to destroy the bacteria responsible for the potentially deadly infection, listeriosis.
It’s an extract made by drying and grinding the sacs located by the anal glands of beavers. Castoreum can be used in baked goods, gums, alcohol, and candy, for example.
The waxy substance is derived from raw wool and used in chewing gum (and hand cream, as well as other non-food products).
This amino-acid nutrient can be derived from human hair or bird feathers. But most of what is used commercially is synthetically produced.
A component derived from the stomach of milk-fed calves, this additive is a thickening agent used for making custards.
Made from the shiny secretions of the asian lac bug, shellac can be used to coat pills and candies as well as make apples glisten.
Silicon dioxide (silica or sand)
Yes, actual very fine quartz sand is used in some powdered foods to keep them free-flowing and moisture free.
This enzyme is used to "glue" pieces of meat together in order to form one whole cut. The new cuts must be listed on food labels. Look for ingredients such as "reformed and shaped chicken breast" or "formed turkey thigh roast."
What’s really in your food? 4/12
Which food additives to avoid? 4/12
Pink slime, plus all the other stuff in your food. 3/12
Caramel color: avoid the risks. 12/11
Cured Meats: Don’t Ham it Up! 12/10
The real risks of sulfites. 6/10