NEW PHOTO: Lean Finely Textured Beef, From A Different Point of View

I want to share with you a photo sent to me by an anonymous source.

Here’s a photo of Lean Textured Beef (aka “pink slime”) that’s been widely circulated in recent days by the product’s manufacturer, Beef Products Inc.

photo source: Beef Products Inc.

This is a photo of Lean Textured Beef as it purportedly appears in BPI’s plant.  I was told this batch was being held for pathogen testing:

If you’ve watched the film Food Inc., you’ve already seen LFTB in this grayer, block form, and if you don’t mind the unlabeled inclusion of the filler in your burger, the above photo is unlikely to change your mind.  But the two pictures are qualitatively different enough that I felt it was worth comparing the two side by side.

In my opinion, neither looks much like what most consumers think of as “100% ground beef” — i.e., ground chuck or ground round:


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Bettina Elias Siegel


  1. Timmi says

    Gracious it looks even more like dog food, which is where it belongs! I’m glad someone thought “hey if its good enough for Rover its good enough for his owner!” We just won’t tell them

    • says

      I was actually thinking that the photo being distributed by BPI looks more like the food pellets I used to feed my pet rabbit/hamsters.


  2. George from UC says

    Thanks for the photo Bettina, it does look a lot more like the grayish-beige stuff they packed into boxes in Food, Inc.
    I also wanted to share this screen from own video called “Ammonia in Foods” that shows how they need to raise the pH from 6 to 11 to combat E. coli in “pink slime”, 5 pH units = 100,000 fold increase in alkalinity (since it’s a log scale)

    You can watch their video here:

    Look for these statements about 3 minutes into the video:
    3:20 BPI chose to use ammonium hydroxide which is a very strong base
    3:40 We know with regards to ammonium hydroxide that the level that we increase the level of ammonium hydroxide is extremely small

    Anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry can see that second statement is false, since meat has a pH of about 6 and like most biological systems, is a natural buffer that resists pH change, so to raise it all the way to 11 as they show in their own video, take a whole lot more than “extremely small” amounts or “just a puff” as BPI says.

    I challenge BPI (and high school chemistry students everywhere) to perform this simple experiment: take 10 grams of gound beef, mix it with 10 mL of distilled water, measure pH and using a burette, perform a titration using ammonium hydroxide solution (say 0.5M or maybe 1%) until it reaches pH 11 (BPI’s own amount stated in THEIR video). Take notes at pH 8.5 and 10, since those were reported by the NY Times.
    Using that data, calculate how much ammonium hydroxide needs to be added to one pound of ground beef to reach that pH, and publish your results here, on Twitter or on Give your opinion on how that amount compares to “extremely small” or “just a puff”.

    • George from UC says

      Sure! Get the “facts” from the very industry that’s using ammonia to disinfect meat. Residual ammonia is not the same as the total amount used to raise pH to 10 or 11, just as residual chlorine in a pool is not the same amount used to disinfect it.
      The graphic you link to appears in the video I mentioned, so it contributes nothing new. On the other hand, the article posted by Lauren shows some pretty major changes in meat when the pH is raised, wonder what it looks like at 11 like in BPI’s video, where ammonia “crushes” E. coli bacteria.

  3. says

    Even a steak will turn greyish with enough time. Was there any indication when the photo was taken in relation to how long ago the beef had been separated from the fat? It is not an appropriate comparison, if the two forms of meat have not been sitting out in the air for approximately the same amount of time.
    This link has photos which explain the fresh cut (myoglobin) vs. “bloomed” (oxymyoglobin) vs. metmyoglobin (darkish grey) on a steak. Obviously ground beef and the lean textured beef are going through other processes in order to become what it is.

  4. SDmeatguy says

    lauren, great research! The fact that people are starting to look for information from collegiate academia, versus columnist and freelance writers encourages me that there is hope. Did you notice the freezer packs in the picture ? Could it be that this product was not held in proper refrigerated state during some sort of shipping? Makes you wonder what someone is upto to try to get something “raunchy” to write about. Lighting is also important(not that i dont cut a few heads off in family pictures accidentally). Did you notice how the picture from the “anonymous” source has shadows? First it was pink, now its gray….whats next? it glows? Get for real. And we are all pushing for transparency, really? Then someone sends in pictures from anonymous sources? where is the transparency in that? If your gonna speak up, then SPEAK UP!

  5. Veronica says

    Hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but even 100% beef isn’t always 100% beef. A lot of companies put red dye in ground beef. Yum yum! (By the way, because of the way dye reacts to light it makes it radioactive. Radioactivity = cancer. YAY!)
    Lesson: Only buy beef from local butchers or raise your own. Or don’t eat it.
    Also, for the record, I don’t care if there’s “pink slime” or not. I don’t like it because of the amonia. But I’ll still eat it. Of course, I get my beef from my aunt. So I know where everything comes from and what it’s fed.
    However if someone is arguing because it’s scraps and that’s gross, well that seems silly. People starving in Somalia and we won’t eat scraps… ridiculous. If no one’s arguing against it because it’s scraps, well then just ignore this! 😀

    • George from UC says

      Here we go again! Radioactivity is due to the decay of the nucleus of the atom. No amount of light (unless you consider gamma rays “light”) can turn an ordinary atom into a radioactive isotope.
      Light affects the electrons in the outer shells of the atom, making them jump an energy level or two, but the nucleus is completely unaffected. Changing oxidation state, from Fe(II) → Fe(III) can turn meat an unappetizing color, but it’s due to the loss of one electron. Please read Lauren’s excellent comment from March 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm for a detailed explanation.

  6. Mary says

    1. Skittles have red dye. I think you’re confusing GRAS food dye with ethidium bromide.
    2. The sun gives off radiation. As does your computer. Radiation may kill you. But you have a higher chance of dying from a car crash.
    3. Ammonia kills the E coli.
    4. Scraps are good to eat; that is true.


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