Originally published May 20 2012
Pink slime, meat glue and more: Public reactions force Big Food to make changes
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Did you know a kid in junior high that, on a dare, would eat just about anything you dared him to eat, as long as you gave him your dessert? I did; the guy ate just about everything - bugs, earthworms, snails. He even ate a cockroach one time, no fooling. But he sure liked the school's chocolate pudding.
With that in mind, consider some of the things people are finding in food these days - not on a dare, but as byproducts of food preparation. Things like pink slime, food coloring from crushed beetles, "tuna scrape" - briefly used and once called the pink slime of the sushi industry - and now "meat glue," a substance the industry officially calls transglutaminase, "an enzyme that binds formerly unconnected pieces of meat to make them look like one solid chunk," the Chicago Tribune reported.
Whatever the "grossness," folks are more and more often wanting to know what is in the food they eat, and it's no small wonder why they are asking. Meat glue?
Health concerns may be a 'moot' point"I'm beginning to see now that consumers are pushing back," Michael Doyle, Ph.D., director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, said in an interview with the Huffington Post.
"They want more transparency. Pink slime was a great example. It wasn't whether the food was safe or not but, 'Hey, they're putting ammonia in my ground beef, and I don't like that,'" he said.
Who would? After all, isn't ammonia some sort of cleaner? Should the food industry manufacture their products with ingredients just a little less likely to hurt our health?
The health aspect may be "moot," HuffPost blogger and director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, David Katz, M.D., said. After all, "[I]f people don't like the idea of eating it, it will go away."
But he may have a point. He says - and NaturalNews is a good example as well - that such blogs and other sites dedicated to "outing" the food industry for its ingredient quirks is a good thing that is driving change within the industry.
"Foodies and people who are maybe more purists in their food are more concerned, spending more time on the blogs," Katz writes. "They use the blogs to get their perspective out and put pressure on the retailers, who put pressure on the processors."
Consumer groups are adding pressure of their own.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), for instance, is pushing for new policies that promote sustainable food and changes to the food-processing industry, says executive director and HuffPost blogger Michael F. Jacobson. He says the pink slime was the siren in the night for millions of consumers.
"And they clearly didn't like what they saw," he said.
More to come?Some industry experts say, however, that change may be slow (isn't it always) and, well, gross. One in particular - CSPI staff attorney Sarah Klein - hints that consumers are likely to be very surprised (and not in a good way) at all of the nasty ingredients used by the food industry, if the truth were ultimately known.
"I want to say to people, if you were grossed out by pink slime, there's more to come," she told Cleveland.com.
"In pink slime, we are looking at a product that is unsavory, but not unsafe -- we don't have any evidence to suggest the ammonia treatment is dangerous," she said. "But the public outcry over this has illustrated a couple things: consumers want to know what's in their food, and the USDA needs to take a much closer look at labeling -- not just of ground beef, but of all labeling."
Katz says the best way to avoid the nastiness is to change your eating habits to foods that "are generally not prone to any such adulterations."
That means you should get your food the way you get your news: Natural.
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