The Horrifying Truth of What Makes a Burger Patty (NSFFFH)

(NSFFFH stands for Not Safe for Fast Food Habits.)

The New York Times has a must-read articleprofiling a woman who was paralyzed by a nasty burger induced e-coli infection. While the woman’s story is compelling, the reporting on the burger making business is what makes the article a must read. I’ve read Fast Food Nation and all the other books of that genre but for some reason this article is what may have finally cured me of the ubiquitous American burger patty.

Key quote:

The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.” Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

Read on if you dare.

Cargill’s final source was a supplier that turns fatty trimmings into what it calls “fine lean textured beef.” The company, Beef Products Inc., said it bought meat that averages between 50 percent and 70 percent fat, including “any small pieces of fat derived from the normal breakdown of the beef carcass.” It warms the trimmings, removes the fat in a centrifuge and treats the remaining product with ammonia to kill E. coli.

With seven million pounds produced each week, the company’s product is widely used in hamburger meat sold by grocers and fast-food restaurants and served in the federal school lunch program. Ten percent of Ms. Smith’s burger came from Beef Products

Go here for a handy chart of the sources for the burger.

I will gladly pay $5/lb for ground beef from locally raised grass fed cows that are naturally low in saturated fat and free of Ammonia and “Beef Product”. We get ours from Susie David’s Beef and Rocky Ridge Ranch. Both are available at the Millwood Farmers’ Market which goes indoors this week right next to the usual location from noon to 5pm.