Today, I’m looking to the Nerd Herd for writerly inspiration:
I noticed that McDonalds has stopped using the “ammonium hydroxide and fatty beef offcuts” in their burgers: Is it true that they’ve cut out that disgusting gunk shown in Food Inc? I still would consider it immoral and unscrupulous to eat at McDumpsters, but it would at least allow me to sleep slightly better at night knowing my gunk gobbling friends are a small percentage safer. Shine your flashlight of nerdy truth on this story please!
Good question, Seth. The short response is “yes.” According to MSNBC, McDonald’s has stopped using ammonium hydroxide-treated meat, but frankly, I don’t think this is much of a victory. Technically, this means that (literally) crappy fast food burgers are now a little less safe. Ammonium hydroxide, in addition to cleaning windows and staining wood, is an antimicrobial, meaning it inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. Given the supply chain o’ apathy that McDonald’s beef travels down, from the slaughterhouses where workers aren’t that concerned if a little intestinal waste (read: bacteria-laden cow poop) gets into the meat, to the “kitchen” where teenage employees aren’t that concerned about poorly aimed sneezes, that “meat” – if that’s what you want to call it – needs all the help it can get.
Furthermore, it isn’t the ammonium hydroxide that makes the infamous pink paste so viscerally gross. It’s the fact that it’s a nearly liquified animal product (mechanically separated meat they call it) and that hasn’t changed. A lot of the fast food hot dogs, chicken nuggets, or simulated pork ribs out there still come from a similar goop – although probably not as much because restaurants are now federally mandated to let consumers know about it. But is it really that gross? It’s just ground up animal parts. Why is a muscle okay to eat, but not a beak? Heck, I’ll show you a bowl full of strawberry frozen yogurt that looks exactly the same. You won’t gag – although you should, given HFCS-laden fro-yo is every bit as unhealthy as pureed, chemically treated cow lips and assholes, IMHO.
And vegetarians are no better off. Next time we’re hanging out, I’ll show you a plate of textured soy protein (the stuff they make fake meat out of) and a plate of human boogers. You won’t be able to tell the difference. At least the boogers will be GMO-free, not to mention freshly picked.
I think the whole thing became an issue because British chef Jamie Oliver decided to make it his cause célèbre, which is swell and all, but I’d rather he focus on McDonald’s food additives that have actually been shown to be bad for you. I’m not familiar with any studies damning ammonium hydroxide. However, I think we all agree that the MSG in their sausage and scrambled egg mix is problematic. Same with the tumor-tastic Blue 1 and Yellow 6 that pop up in a few of their food items. At how could we forget the possibly cancer-causing sodium nitrate in their bacon?
But the problem is that most bacon contains sodium nitrate, so campaigning against it would be tough for Oliver cuz he’d need to purge his website of recipes like Mini Shell Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce.
I don’t mean to turn this into an episode of Beat Up The Brit. I like Oliver and the points he makes. However, fixing our food system is a lot bigger battle than many people think. Seth, I think it’s important to impress upon your junk food junkie friends that it’s no safer to walk under the Golden Arches than it was last year, no matter how much pink paste they avoid.intestinal bacteria, mcdonalds, meat, nitrates