The notorious 'pink slime' story has been out for several weeks now, and supermarkets are feeling the heat.
'Pink slime' is an unflattering name given to a process by which 'waste' beef trimmings are spun through a centrifuge to separate the fat from the meat, which is then extruded through a pencil-sized tube while exposed to an ammonia gas to kill pathogens such as E. Coli. The resultant sludge is lean beef that is mixed in with other higher-quality ground beef, the end result being what winds up in the meat cases of some supermarkets.
The process is primarily used by Cargill Meat Solutions, a privately held, Kansas-based company that is one of the largest meat processors in country.
One of their ground beef customers is .
Yesterday, Wegmans announced that they will stop selling ground beef that contains the Cargill-processed 'lean finely textured beef,' the official name for what critics have dubbed as pink slime.
"Having grown up in the meat business, we have always been proud of our ground beef and eat it ourselves. Because of the sensationalism of this issue it has become a concern for our customers," store CEO Danny Wegman said in a statement.
"Every decision we make is with our customers in mind. Our commitment remains the same. We will continue to source the best quality ground beef, now without lean finely textured beef.”
The supermarket chain said they would 'be transitioning' from the use of the Cargill 'lean finely textured beef' in their ground beef, but that they would not be removing current ground beef stock containing the pink slime from their meat showcases.
The ground beef will be replaced, they said, "as its available from our supplier. That timeline is now being determined."
Wegmans said Cargill would continue to be their ground beef provider. The company did say that the ground beef they have bought from Cargill was never treated with ammonium hydroxide, an ammonia gas, but rather citric acid has been used to kill pathogens.
"The issue has grown to the point where there is enough customer concern where we are taking action," said Jo Natale, Wegmans director of media relations.