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Jamie Oliver Says McDonald’s Burgers Unfit For Human Consumption

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British food blogger deems McDonald’s cheese burger unfit for human consumption because of “pink slime.” Here's why beef producers need to fight back.

It’s been more than a year since the industry was “pink-slimed,” a term coined by ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and British food blogger Jamie Oliver. The term, of course, was the sensational characterization of lean finely textured beef (LFTB). LFTB is a 100% beef product produced by a process developed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI) of Dakota Dunes, SD, which separates fat from lean in beef trim. Until the sensational ABC News expose, LFTB was commonly used as an ingredient in school lunch programs and fast-food burgers. The fact is that billions of pounds of the product have been produced and consumed over the years without any reported problems.

The news report, and the resulting social media campaign, created such a hysteria that demand for LFTB dried up, and BPI was forced to close three of its four LFTB plants and lay off 650 employees. BPI then sued ABC News and others for defamation, and that case continues. But the nasty connotation in consumers' minds that beef is tainted with chemicals persists.

In fact, that notion is being perpetuated by Oliver’s most recent musings. His war against the fast-food industry has been largely aimed at McDonald’s, which announced earlier this year that the chain will revise its burger recipe to exclude LFTB.

 

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Oliver is taking credit for the change. In one of his consumer food demonstrations, he uses a live beef animal, primal cuts of a carcass, a can of spray paint, a clothes washer, and a locked cabinet of chemicals to demonstrate what he calls the “pink slime process.”

Despite the fact that a writer last week deemed the McDouble as one of the best economical and healthy foods, Oliver says the McDonald’s burger is “not fit for human consumption.”

When describing LFTB on his show, Oliver tells a grossed-out public, “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings.”

 

 

The segment was released more than a year ago and has accumulated 2.2 million views. It's again getting some mileage, now that Oliver is taking credit for McDonald’s burger change while promoting his TV show, his campaign, “Food Revolution, and his organization, “Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.”

If you haven’t seen the clip yet, I encourage you to check it out and note how Oliver uses phrases to describe “pink slime.” He says, “This is how I imagine the process to be” and “I’m not sure how much (ammonia and water) is used,” as he splashes the chemicals into a bucket of beef while a horrified crowd looks on.

Again, this is dramatization and fear mongering at its best, and you can bet that it’s Oliver’s cash cow.

pink slime controversy

Producers, Consumers Stand Together To Support BPI Lean Finely Textured Beef
Beef Products, Inc. shuttered operations at three of the company’s four plants that process lean finely textured beef (LFTB) after an ABC report.

I don’t blame him for wanting better food available to the masses, and I believe his heart is in the right place. But he needs to use science, not emotion and personal opinion, when he makes claims about things. America’s beef is safe, and consumers shouldn’t fear that it’s something that it’s not. That's my opinion on this topic; what is yours? What did you think of the clip? How should the industry respond?

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 51

John Aquilino (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

Was it in California that school children declared Jamie Oliver's cuisine unfit to eat? Stand up and state the facts. Tired of "politically correct" bullies dictating how we should live.

CafeMike (not verified)
on Nov 17, 2013

Yes, let's have the children tell us what they should eat. That's a good idea.

on Aug 12, 2013

I agree, Amanda, but "science" won't pay like "emotion & personal opinion" will for Oliver. The sad thing is that once it is out there it is tough to retract or counter, and there would be no up-side for him to do so.

Rick (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

mickey d's burgers aint fit for human consumption
but not from reclaimed meat products
more from " who the hell knows where it come from"

Gene W. Welsh (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

The is the free enterprise system and you can't stop the special interest group who are have the gain of large wealth as the underlying motivation. I believe the beef industry must get ahead of the curve. Instead of promoting beef in rural Ne. . We need to educate the masses that think meat comes in a plastic rapper with the fact of the nutritional and safety of our product. Easy said huh? Gene PS. There are Dr. who will say that beef is a good and wholesome food in moderation.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

Let him run his course. Like BSE's continuous headlines they eventually fall on deaf ears. We are a large enough industry the crying "wolf" will wear out.

on Aug 12, 2013

Amanda, Jamie Oliver's heart is not in the right place. His heart is at the bank. Outfits like ABC news pay him a bonus every time he shoots his mouth off on a sensationalized topic because the ratings go up. Mr. Oliver is not concerned about good food for the masses. He is concerned about green money in his bank account. I hold absolutely no respect for those in the media who simply use fear monger tactics to draw a paycheck and to be quite frank with you I have totally lost my patience with them.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 3, 2013

ABC NEWS HAS NEVER PAID OLIVER FOR AN INTERVIEW. This post is completely unfounded.

shaun evertson (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

One of the greatest mistakes beef producers can make is "giving the benefit of the doubt" to people who are trying to destroy us. Oliver's heart isn't in the right place an ultimately, his crusade isn't about good food. It's about controlling people.

linda (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2013

Jamies heart is very much into telling people the truth of what goes on, and he is very passionate about it. Americans allow schools etc to feed their kids absolute JUNK ie pizza for breakfast, no wonder most of you are obese, and up there for one of the fattest nations. Why dont you care what your kids eat?Sorry but yes the truth hurts!

elizabeth (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

Building trust should be the number one issue for consumer education. Maybe if the threat of slaughtering horses for cheap meat, the use of anti-biotics and drugs, false labeling European scandals, and the daily recalls aren't enough, then when will the American Beef industry stand up and list ingredients and then stamp USDA 100 % BEEF on a burger! The world is buying Brazil beef and they are razing rain forests while American sits here and clones beef in a test tube - what is up with that?

BG (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

If his heart was in the right place I believe he would find out how for example how LFTB is made instead of "imagining" it and he would find out how much ammonia is used in the process to make sure that the meat is free from harmful bacteria. I am tired of my bank account suffering (beef prices dropping) every time people like him hear their bank account go "cha ching".... I work hard to make sure the beef that leave my farm is safe and that the animals were well cared for. I also work hard to inform my friends, family, and others who will listen about the real story behind the ribeye steak on their grill or the hamburger on their plate.

Irene (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Hi, can you tell me then please is ammonia used on your meat? and how much? and if it is, why is it necessary?

on Oct 30, 2013

Ammonium hydroxide and other ammonia-containing compounds are used extensively in food processing. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations affirm ammonium hydroxide as safe (“generally recognized as safe” or GRAS) for use as a leavening agent, a pH control agent, and a surface-finishing agent in food with no limitation other than current good manufacturing practice. 21 C.F.R. § 184.1139. See also National Academy of Sciences, Food Chemicals Codex, 5th Ed. (2004), p. 24.

The list of foods in which ammonium hydroxide is used as a direct food additive is extensive and includes baked goods, cheeses, chocolates, other confectionery (e.g., caramel), and puddings. Ammonium hydroxide is also used as an antimicrobial agent in meat products.

Ammonium hydroxide can be used as an antimicrobial to control pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7, which may be present in beef. In the treatment, naturally occurring levels of ammonium hydroxide in beef are increased slightly to create a pH that eliminates harmful bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), after consultation with FDA, has determined that this use of ammonium hydroxide is safe. [FSIS Directive 7,120.1 Attachment (Substances accepted by FSIS as safe and suitable for use in the production of meat and poultry products)].

To learn more, go to: http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=Questions_and_Ans...

Charlie Powell (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

The term "pink slime" was not, "...a term coined by ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and British food blogger Jamie Oliver." They've used it a lot. It was in fact first used almost a decade before in 2002 by Dr. Gerald Zirnstein, USDA FSIS microbiologist, in an internal USDA e-mail. The term gained first public exposure in 2009 when Zirnstein's email was referenced and noted in a New York Times piece. Zirnstein also said in the same email to colleagues, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”

It is vital in a responsible argument, especially when bashing media, to be accurate as doing so builds credibility with the entire congregation, not just the choir.

on Aug 12, 2013

Thanks for the note and the heads up, Charlie. "Coined" was the wrong refernce to use. We actually have reported on the origin of the "pink slime" characterization by the USDA microbiologist in earlier coverage. Thanks for claifying.

Peter V. (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2013

Did Jamie ever really eat at a McDonalds?

I occassionally enjoy a McDonalds Quarter Pounder and a zero Coke.

I don't think I'm alone. McDonalds is crowded everytime my daughter and I go there.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 13, 2013

We need a positive educational program on major networks that shows the beef industry at its best. (Not just Beef its whats for dinner) Explain the processes as we know them to be, not the emotional and incorrect or exagerated information. Where are our beef check off dollars in all this?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 13, 2013

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most biased and misleading article that I have read on this subject. The fact that the product cannot be legally sold in it's entirety for consumption should raise some immediate concerns, as should the fact that it is prohibited even as an additive in Canada, the UK and Europe. As a PhD chemist, I can also assure you that the decision by the aforementioned countries to prohibit the use of this product due to use of ammonia (and ammonium hydroxide, more commonly used in household cleaning agents) is not scaremongering, but rather a shrewd measure to ensure the quality of the product and health of the consumer.

I will agree that Jamie Oliver has most certainly sensationalized the story to ensure greater coverage; it is however no more off base than this article, and is done with a much greater goal in mind.

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore a good piece of beef, and will eat beef/steak at least a couple of times a week. I do not however believe that sacrificing quality to lower costs, nor hiding behind additives and fillers that do not need to be disclosed is the way to go however...

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 14, 2013

Sorry, but saying that "America’s beef is safe" disqualifies you automatically. Cows, just to make an example, are not evolved to eat corn (and because of this they are also been given plenty of antibiotics), which is the main food they are given in the US, and the quality and health of the meat is heavily penalized by that.
It's clear you have interests in this business ... as Jamie Oliver of course, but at least he's on the right side.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 14, 2013

The author writes: "Despite the fact that a writer last week deemed the McDouble as one of the best economical and healthy foods..." A writer? If you're going to include such a statement in your article, it might be good to cite your source.

on Aug 14, 2013

"Anonymous," it was Kyle Smith of the New York Post -- http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_greatest_food_hu...

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 14, 2013

Kyle Smith did not say that. He quotes it. The article you link to even says: "The argument above was made by a commenter on the Freakonomics blog..."

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 15, 2013

I don't doubt that pink slime is safe, but if I'm paying for I want prime cuts, not the little bits left over ground up and put in my hamburger.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 15, 2013

To describe Jamie Oliver's profession as "food blogger" is hilarious. He's an incredibly successful TV Chef and owns both very successful independent restaurants and chains.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2013

I LOVE how people insist on defending this crap we now call food. Defend it then spend billions of dollars trying to lose weight and fight hypertension and diabetes. Look around you and see how great the McCrap nation is. Whew, now go eat a handful of almonds, an apple and drive past the drive thru.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 17, 2013

If it is good enough for my dog, it is good enough for me.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 17, 2013

I believe in Jamie. I paid for my food, I'd want to know where does it come from. And if it is as per Jamie's claim, shame on MacDonald's

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 19, 2013

you can't be particular about Oliver's choice of words when your contrary opinion is " Despite the fact that a writer last week deemed the McDouble as one of the best economical and healthy foods"

I'm a writer... does that mean your quoting me?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 30, 2013

If you're a writer, you should know the proper way to use "your" and "you're".

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 23, 2013

he does. it was correctly written. and you were wrong to call him out.

YOUR English prof says YOU'RE wrong (not verified)
on May 23, 2014

No, that's NOT the correct way to use "your," actually. "Your" implies ownership by "you." The correct word should have been "you're," which is the conjugate of you & are.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 20, 2013

Ya'll can go to McDonalds and eat that while my family and I buy our beef from a local farmer.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 28, 2013

So some of you are going on about Olivers heart not being in the right place. Are you implying that the heart of corporates like McDonalds IS? Do you really believe that they have the best interest for it's consumers, more than Oliver does?

Think about that while you spend your hard-earned money at the McDonalds counter.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 15, 2013

Let the ignorant dumbo,s eat themselves into an early grave, no sense , no brain, intelligent folk do take notice, well done Jamie.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 21, 2013

You americans make me laugh, food is full of crap, look at your expanding waistlines it says it all and even if it isnt its probably been spitroasted by you hillbillies

American Hillbilly & Proud (not verified)
on May 23, 2014

Strange how people hide behind an anonymous tag to talk crap with no real productive addition to the conversation. You know what makes me laugh? The millions of people in other countries who suck off the teat of American foreign aid, military support, good old fashioned ingenuity & invention, both cultural & social trends, & come here for education, to make movies, to record music, to get medical care, etc. but THEN talk crap. THAT is hilarious. You see, Anonymous, that broad stroking brush can swing both ways!

Weirdo (not verified)
on Sep 27, 2013

Is pink slime being used in other country's , like australia

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 8, 2013

jamie go grow some veggies, leave mcdonalds alone. every time you turn around someone is trying to ruin something for you.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 8, 2013

If its not good for us, who cares if science proves it or someone with a passion for making our food better does. As long as it is the truth, it really doesn't make a difference where the info comes from.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 11, 2013

If Maccas can use emotion to promote their unhealthy, toxic food, why cant Jamie Oliver to promote fresh, clean and often organic or pasture fed meats? People are so misled. Just dont feed this garbage to your kids, let alone yourself. Jeez wake up.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 1, 2013

Everything comes down to monetary efficiency....that "efficiency" is scaled to the best interest of those in power. Its sad to say unfortunately North America's money problems and habits currently don't have food as a priority and its sad. You would rather make food more convenient and filling than feed the mind.

It will take time...just like smoking...if you're not ready to quit you wont.

Good luck Americas

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 3, 2013

I don't think its about SAFE its about HEALTHY.

David Hillshafer (not verified)
on Nov 12, 2013

While Jamie's tactic is underhanded and motives are questionable there is no doubt an underlying truth that allows his campaign to be taken as gospel. American's are out of touch with their food, they only see the final step in the process, at peak freshness in a pretty, air-tight plastic package in a colorful box.
Despite the scare tactics employed by Jamie the truth is, if people were educated about the nature of this product and if packages were labeled to indicate it's inclusion, they would not buy it.
Obviously ranchers need to watch their bottom line but the fact is, American beef as a whole just isn't very good. I want beef that's raised the right way with a proper diet and healthy lifestyle and the industry as a whole fails at providing that. It seems ranchers are so focused on their bottom line they hurry every process to get their product to market.
When will they stop focusing on just production and start producing a product that's worth consuming, whether it is 'pink slimed' or not?

CafeMike (not verified)
on Nov 17, 2013

The beef industry should sit down with articulate thoughtful people like you and listen. God bless our farmers one and all, too.

CafeMike (not verified)
on Nov 17, 2013

So, scientifically speaking, just what is the process of making LFTB ?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2013

I really dislike Jamie Oliver.

People should turn the argument on it's head - surely it is ethically right that every bit of an animal is used if it's safe for consumption.

Do people think they are buying burgers produced from the finest quality minced steak when they go to mac Donalds? I don't think so. Do they care? Again, don't think so.

I believe that people eat mass produced cheap meat knowing full well that it tastes good, it is safe for human consumption (ridiculous comment), but that you're probably best off not analysing where how it was produced.

Personally, i would hope that everyday people see Oliver for what he is.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 14, 2013

This isn't about food safety, it's about knowing what you're buying.

Label the product as containing LFTB (or, more appropriately, pink slime) and let consumers decide.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 29, 2013

Jamie is awesome and its quite sad reading all the previous comments that people will clearly still support this food chain and eat rubbish!

robionos (not verified)
on Aug 2, 2014

At the end of the day,McDonalds in the US is not following suit because of jamie oliver, they are doing so because every other country already has and did so before Oliver. Someone has money on their minds, but I doubt its the multi-millionair best selling author, television show host, restaurant owner and philanthropist. Look into it, he donates more than anyone on this site earns in a year. Not to worry though, his naysayers cant catch us and might have a heart attack for the effort.

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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