Awareness of "pink slime" in the schools, restaurants, and supermarkets has caused quite a stir in recent days. BPI, a leading manufacturer of the stuff has subsequently shut down all but 1 of their factories. There are still slime burgers out there and BPI refuses to disclose their consumers. If it's not the process of stripping the scraps, melting them, and spinning them that worries consumers, then it should be the ammonia gas!
Effects of the gas chamberConsumers are told by the media that "it's just beef, dude". That's comparative to saying high fructose corn syrup is "just sugar, dude", which we all know is not true. So what exactly happens in the "slime gas chamber"? While human exposure to ammonia gas itself is extremely hazardous to the respiratory tract, it has little effect on digestion since it is a gas. The issue arises when ammonia gas comes in contact with water, like the water within meat. This interaction produces ammonium hydroxide or "ammonia water". Now we have a hazardous gas turned to liquid form that can wreak havoc on the human body.
Ammonium hydroxideCommonly sold as window cleaner, floor cleaner, wood polish, and a source of food (slime), ammonium hydroxide is a serious threat to a person's health. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for ammonium hydroxide classifies the substance as very hazardous when in contact with skin. Ammonium hydroxide may produce tissue damage on mucous membranes. The human digestive system is basically one long mucous membrane from mouth to finish. Repeated or prolonged exposure to ammonium hydroxide can lead to health deterioration through accumulation within human organs. Although ammonium and ammonia are essential to proper kidney function and maintaining an acid-base balance within the body, chronic high levels of the chemical can ruin delicate blood vessels and cause harm on the cellular level. By offsetting the balance with the addition of more ammonia molecules, there is more conversion of waste urea by the liver and more excretion of ammonium in the urine.
Good or bad?The FDA lists ammonium hydroxide as generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Their committee reports; "although there have been no significant feeding studies specifically designed to ascertain the safety threshold of ammonium compounds as food ingredients, numerous metabolic studies have been reported in the scientific literature. Extrapolation of these findings to the concentrations of ammonium compounds normally present in foods does not suggest that there would be untoward effects at such levels." (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov) So, this means there is no study of actual safety thresholds in food ingredients, and its safety is based on an extrapolation of data based on the normal presence of ammonium hydroxide in food, not added. Aside from the kidneys and liver, our digestive system suffers from the ammonium hydroxide. Not only does ammonium hydroxide kill E. coli 0157:H7 (the dangerous one), but it can also destroy the bacterial flora that keeps us healthy! Bacteria are not all bad, but the kind that comes from cow factory leftovers is, and shouldn't be consumed. The bottom line is, know your beef!
Sources for this article include:http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9922918
About the author:
Dr. Daniel Zagst is a chiropractic physician at Advanced Health & Chiropractic in Mooresville, NC. He has a BS in Professional Studies of Adjunctive Therapies, Doctorate of Chiropractic from NYCC, and an Advanced Certificate in Sport Science and Human Performance.