Monday, September 21, 2009

Burgers are Better with Ammonia

Before you bite into that burger, you might want to know that it has likely been treated with ammonia. Yes, the nasty smelling stuff you generally associate with killing germs is being used for exactly that when teamed with beef products.

Lean beef processor Beef Products Incorporated, or BPI, was featured in the film Food, Inc. A zealous representative eagerly shows how pulverized meat mixed with ammonia effectively kills the e coli present in the beef. The finished product vaguely resembles a beige sponge.

BPI’s website has a lovely 13-page essay entitled “Ammonia – Essential for Life”, which depicts ammonia as an almost benign substance.

In addition to ammonia, beef can also treated with carbon monoxide to keep the pinkish hue of the product for a longer period of time. Toward the end of untreated beef’s freshness period, it will naturally begin to dull. Conversely, after a shot of carbon monoxide, beef will retain an artificially fresh look long after the meat has passed the stage of edibility.

Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable disease. Poor diet is the second.

Is ammonia really a part of a balanced diet?

BPI’s website asks, “Is this the only way you can get rid of e coli?” to which it answers itself, “No, although we believe it is the most effective was to ensure fresh meats are free of harmful bacteria prior to cooking.” It then references a rather long list of processing agents that tends to fill the reader with more concern than comfort. There is no reference made, however, to the diet given to cows before they even arrive at the plant, which, if changed from corn, could help alleviate this problem, along with the improvements to the conditions in which they live.

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