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'Pink Slime' Beef in Laguna Niguel? Trade It In

Residents won't find many stores in Laguna Niguel selling the so-called pink slime beef.

'Pink Slime' Beef in Laguna Niguel? Trade It In

I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere down the line I became a vegetarian.

Growing up in the where steak and potatoes were the staples of any dinner, it’s hard to fathom that I gave it all up. But I did, wholeheartedly.

I haven’t had a piece of red meat in almost 30 years and I am not quite sure what would happen if I did. Do I get tired of pasta and salad? Sure. Sometimes, on occasion, I will order a piece of chicken or a turkey burger, but I never crave a steak or prime rib.

However, with the latest news reports that one USDA scientist is claiming that 70 percent of all ground beef sold at supermarkets contains something called “pink slime,” I can honestly say I do not miss red meat.

 “Pink slime” is beef trimmings. Once only used in dog food and cooking oil, the trimmings are now sprayed with ammonia so they are safe to eat and added to most ground beef as cheaper filler. The “pink slime” does not have to appear on the label because, over objections of its own scientists, USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled it meat.

Healthpop reported last month that , Burger King and pledged to stop using the treated meat.

So should Laguna Niguel residents be worried about buying ground beef in local supermarkets?

At , customers disturbed about the rampant use of pink slime are invited to swap ground beef bought from other retailers at Fresh & Easy’s “Pink Slime Swap Meat” through Thursday, March 29.

Brendan Wonnecut, a spokesman for the chain, said Fresh & Easy “never has  and never will" use the ammonia-treated filler known as pink slime in its ground beef.”

Customers can bring fresh or frozen ground beef from another retailer to Fresh & Easy and exchange it for a package of Fresh & Easy (80/20) ground beef -- no questions asked.

 “It’s understandable that people would lose confidence in food retailers because of the use of pink slime,” said Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. “Fresh & Easy has never been about shortcuts or fillers -- just high-quality fresh food that we produce ourselves, so we know it’s the best.”

Fresh & Easy grinds all of its own meat, using only fresh, never frozen beef, it reports.

So where else can residents get pink-slime-free beef?

Other stores such as Safeway, which is goes under the name in Southern California, told ABC News: “Safeway is committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products.  While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean, finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product. Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean, finely textured beef.”

told ABC News it does not use “pink slime.”

“Anything that we sell at Costco, we want to explain its origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

Added Kroger, which goes under in Southern California said, “Kroger listens to our customers carefully to provide the high quality products they want at the great prices they deserve. Our customers have expressed their concerns that the use of lean finely textured beef -- while fully approved by the USDA for safety and quality -- is something they do not want in their ground beef.  We highly value customer feedback, and the recent flood of news stories has diminished their confidence in the product. As a result, Kroger will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef.”

And SUPERVALU told ABC News. “SUPERVALUE has made the decision to no longer purchase fresh ground beef containing finely textured beef for any of our traditional retail stores. These stores include Acme, , Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save  and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy.  We are currently working with our suppliers to implement this change. While it’s important to remember there are no food safety concerns with products containing finely textured beef, this decision was made due to ongoing customer concerns over these products. All current beef products in our stores meet strict safety and quality standards approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

As for local restaurants, the owner of , Mike Schneider said:  “Yes this pink slime stuff is getting a lot of attention.  For us, it's not something we worry about since we buy full loins of all our cuts (tenderloins, sirloins, strip loins and export rib). We cut all of our meat here at the restaurant using ‘choice’ and occasionally ‘prime’ beef. Since we cut our own steaks, we take the ‘trim’ and grind it up ourselves for our burgers. That way we know what is in our ground beef  and how it was handled. Plus we know all our hamburger meat is made from sirloin, filet mignon, and N.Y. strips.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel said it, too, "only uses uses top grade certified meat."

I think I will stick to pasta primavera and salads.

What about you?

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