US: The making of the term 'pink slime'
Posted: May 22nd, 2012 - 5:29pm
Source: Associated Press
New York -- "Pink slime" was almost "pink paste" or "pink goo."
The microbiologist who coined the term for lean finely textured beef ran through a few iterations in his head before he decided to send an email about the filler to a co-worker at the U.S. Department of Agriculture a decade ago. Then, the name hit him like heartburn after a juicy burger.
"It's pink. It's pasty. And it's slimy looking. So I called it `pink slime,'" said Gerald Zirnstein, the former meat inspector at the USDA. "It resonates, doesn't it?"
Most Americans didn't know — or care — about it before Zirnstein's vivid moniker was quoted in a 2009 article by The New York Times on the safety of meat processing methods.
Soon afterward, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver began railing against it. McDonald's and other fast food companies later discontinued their use of it. And major supermarket chains including Kroger and Stop & Shop vowed to stop selling beef with the low-cost filler.
Bettina Siegel, a food blogger who posted an online petition asking the USDA to stop using the filler in school lunches, said the controversy isn't based on the term alone. She said consumers are just upset that the filler is not what they think they're getting when they buy "100 percent ground beef."
The author of the term "pink slime" makes no apologies about his creation. Zirnstein, who has since left the USDA, said he thinks "pink slime" is a better descriptor than "lean finely textured beef."
"It says it's lean. Great. But it doesn't describe what kind of lean it is," said Zirnstein, who doesn't think the product should be mixed into beef. "Textured. What does that mean?"