MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Getting hit by green slime on Nickelodeon kid's shows used to be a badge of honor. But, while green slime in your hair may have been fun, pink slime in your meat is not quite the same.
The American Beef Industry may be taking the fun out of getting "slimed." Pink slime looks a little like play dough and it is made of filler products like head meat, causing some to question - at the very least - the economics of it all.
After grinding up some beef at Cates Family Meat Market in Olive Branch, Mississippi, T.J. Cates said, "That looks exactly like what you are going to buy at the supermarket, but it’s not."
Instead, most ground beef contains something called pink slime; it's referred to by the beef companies as "finely textured lean beef."
Others take a different viewpoint.
"It is economic fraud," said Gerald Zernstein, a former USDA scientist. "It is not fresh ground beef."
"Because the USDA does not make them claim that the have it," said Cates, "they get to use pink slime as weight."
Here’s how the pink slime process works. Beef waste trimmings are collected and the fat is separated from muscle; it is then sprayed with ammonia to kill bacteria and compressed into bricks and shipped out to be added to 70 percent of all ground beef.
"Whenever you grind meat," said Cates, "it should bruise within two to three days and start turning dark."
But pink slime keeps it looking red for up to three weeks. And there’s more.
"If you’ve ever bought supermarket ground beef and taken it out of the tray- there’s a little puddle of water. Well, it’s not really water."
"It’s pretty gross." said Cates.
T.J. also warns of stuff other than pink slime that could be in your meat.
"There’s also a thing called meat glue," Cates told abc24.com, "you take random parts of meat and they add this powder to it- which they have to wear a mask when they make it."
If you have ever had a cut of meat fall apart, you are familiar with meat glue.
"I can only imagine what it does when it goes into your body." Cates said.
So the bottom line, "The USDA needs to make them, if they are going to put something in your food, they need to make them label it," said Cates.
ABC News producers e-mailed the top ten grocery chains in the country asking about pink slime.
Only four responded. Publix, Costco, Whole Foods, and HEB all said they do not use pink slime.
If you want to make sure you’re not getting any of the stuff discussed in this article, buy meat labeled ‘organic’; it is filler free.
Or you could just go to a butcher shop.