'Pink slime' grinds consumers

Some area beef sellers weigh in on if they use it

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COEUR d'ALENE - Call it what you want: "Pink slime," or "Lean finely textured Beef."

Either way, some consumers don't want it used as a filler in their ground beef.

Recent news reports have said school districts nationwide are serving pink slime in ground beef to students, McDonald's is no longer using it in its hamburgers, and most grocery stores have it in their ground beef.

Of course, panic on the Internet has stirred the masses.

The so-called pink slime, or goo, is a widely used mixture of low-grade meat trimmings salvaged during processing and treated with ammonia to kill anything that would make people sick. It has been used since the 1990s, and is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for human consumption.

The Press contacted supermarkets and other sellers of ground beef in North Idaho and asked if they use it in their ground beef grinding operations or if it's included in the ground beef they sell.

Some didn't return multiple calls and messages. They include: Walmart, Safeway, Fred Meyer, and Trading Company Fresh Food.

Many others did respond, however.

Craig Wilson, vice president of food safety and quality assurance for Costco Wholesale, said pink slime isn't a filler in their ground beef.

A spokeswoman for Supervalu, owner of Albertsons supermarkets, said in an email response to questions, "While we do not add lean finely textured beef to products ground at our retail stores, it is used by many of our ground-beef suppliers in their grinding operations."

The spokeswoman, Lilia Rodriguez, added, "It's important to note the use of lean finely textured beef is a long-standing practice in the industry that adheres to the strict standards approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

Rodriguez said Albertsons is committed to "delivering safe, high-quality products to our customers and we follow federal, state and local guidelines governing all products, including ground beef."

Saul Stone, meat department manager at Stein's Market in Rathdrum on Highway 41, said they do not use pink slime in their ground beef.

Ashley Page, a spokeswoman for IGA, said St. Maries IGA owner Archie McGregor's employees grind their ground beef at the store and they don't add pink slime.

Ron McIntire, owner of the Super 1 Foods supermarkets in North Idaho, said, "We don't use any kind of filler. We try and keep the meats as pure as possible."

Joe Hamilton, owner of Pilgrim's Market natural foods in Coeur d'Alene, said 100 percent of the market's ground beef comes from smaller processing plants that don't have the technology to introduce fillers and additives in ground beef.

"None of our meat products come from those big plants" that add "pink slime" to ground beef, Hamilton said. "None of those things are a concern from our suppliers."

He said the smaller producers have "much better records" on food safety, compared with the larger operations that are highly automated.

Tom Peterson, manager of Tim's Special Cut Meats on North Government Way, said, "We don't have any additives at all in our ground beef."

He said their meats are 100 percent natural.

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