During the past month, consumers and media outlets have expressed outrage over a beef additive found in many products that resembles a “pink slime” in its manufacturing process.

The product, called “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB), is composed of carcass trimmings that have been warmed, centrifuged for fat removal and treated with ammonium  hydroxide gas to destroy pathogens such as E. coli. The product is then compressed into blocks and put in freezers prior to being used.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) deems LFTB safe for human consumption, the public as a whole has rightfully been disgusted by the facts behind their daily meals and reminds us once again that we don’t always know what we’re eating — and that the way our food is produced can be seriously unsettling.

Ammonium hydroxide is still a chemical found in fertilizers and household cleaners, and can release flammable vapors. When mixed with certain acids it can become ammonium nitrate, a common ingredient in homemade bombs. Even more disturbing is that the presence of LFTB in food products is not listed on nutritional labels, making it almost impossible for consumers to detect.

Because consumers are now questioning LFTB’s nutritional content, manufacturer AFA Foods has experienced a drop in demand. McDonald’s, Wal-mart and other companies have decided to drop LFTB or give their customers a choice, and AFA Foods is now filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Education is a key element in exposing how our food is made and relying solely on government regulation is not enough to ensure full consumer consciousness.

Consumers should be allowed to dictate what products they put in their bodies, and attempts to keep the product in the food industry without public knowledge should be stopped.

What Can You Do?

The obvious step is to swear off ground beef or becoming a vegetarian.  If you can’t live without your grilled burgers and meatloaf, look for sources of organic, local beef, and ask for it to be ground by your butcher or grind it yourself.

Check out the video below on the Season Premiere of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution demonstrating how this “pink slime” is made: