McDonald’s Drops ‘Pink Slime’ From Hamburger Meat

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Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images

For years, the world’s leading fast-food chain used a “pink slime” as beef filler for its burgers in the U.S. After a campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, McDonald’s has abandoned the goo.

Oliver, who stars in his own TV show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” has been campaigning for months to get fast-food chains to stop using the pink slime, which is technically discarded beef cuts treated with ammonium hydroxide.

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While it’s approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it’s still rather stomach-turning. The goo became better known after Oliver highlighted it on his show, demonstrating how it’s made from scraps that are soaked in ammonium hydroxide and then ground into a pinkish form that looks something like hamburger meat.


McDonald’s has confirmed that it has stopped use the stuff, even as The Daily has reported that the Agriculture Department plans to buy 7 million pounds of it for public school cafeterias in the next several months.

McDonald’s recently released a statement saying that at the beginning of last year, “we made a decision to discontinue to the use of ammonia-treated beef in our hamburgers,” but it has only been widely reported within the last few days. McDonald’s denies that Oliver’s show had anything to do with halting the practice, and it does appear that they stopped using it before Oliver’s show aired in April.

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The USDA actually contends that beef scraps treated with ammonia hydroxide is “generally recognized as safe,” but when you actually see what it’s like, you might think differently. Oliver tried to get the stuff, which he says is in 70% of U.S. beef, out of both fast food restaurants and public school cafeterias.

It’s unclear whether McDonald’s is able to drop the practice without it costing the fast-food chain more to make its burgers. But for those who eat at McDonald’s because they see it as the most cost-effective way to eat — a dubious reason, to say the least — it’s a good thing the company has halted the practice.