By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News
McDonald’s drops use of gooey ammonia-based ‘pink slime’ in hamburger meat.
Treating scrap meat with ammonium hydroxide creates a pink goo that is used to extend meat products like chicken and beef and to kill bacteria.
McDonald’s confirmed that it has eliminated the use of ammonium hydroxide — an ingredient in fertilizers, household cleaners and some roll-your-own explosives — in its hamburger meat.
The company denied that its decision was influenced by a months-long campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to get ammonium-hydroxide-treated meats like chicken and beef out of the U.S. food supply. But it acknowledged this week that it had stopped using the unappetizing pink goo — made from treating otherwise inedible scrap meat with the chemical — several months ago.
Besides being used as a household cleaner and in fertilizers, the compound releases flammable vapors, and with the addition of certain acids, it can be turned into ammonium nitrate, a common component in homemade bombs. It’s also widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products. It’s regulated by the U.S. Agriculture Department, which classifies it as “generally recognized as safe.”
McDonald’s decision was first reported this week by the Daily Mail, a blaring British tabloid, which trumpeted it as a victory for fellow Brit Oliver against the monolithic U.S. food industry.
Oliver’s campaign began in April, when he included a segment on what he called “pink slime” on his TV show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (warning: some readers may find this video distasteful):