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 .
Today Wegmans announced that they will be stop selling ground beef that doesn't 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," said 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've bought from Cargill wasn't never treated with ammonium hydroxide, an ammonia gas, but rather citric acid has been used to kill pathogens.
is the only supermarket in the Woodbridge area that said they used the extruded beef product in their ground beef.
"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.
A&P, which owns supermarkets, said that pink slime never touches their ground beef.
"The freshly-made ground beef products carried at the A&P family of supermarkets, including our exclusive Mid-Atlantic Country Farms locally-grown ground beef and our Green Way all-natural ground beef, do not contain this or any other additives. All of our beef products are of the highest quality to ensure customer satisfaction," said A&P spokeswoman Marcy Connor in a statement.
There is no pink slime in ground beef either, according to company spokeswoman Santina Stankevich.
"ShopRite has contracted with its ground beef suppliers to buy only 100% pure ground beef that does not contain any “lean finely textured beef," she said in a statement.