UPDATED: Monday, April 23, 2012 - 4:23pm
COLLEGE STATION -- A month ago, most of us had never even heard the phrase "pink slime." Now it's all anyone can talk about.
But what is it exactly?
Fox 28's Lauren Holman spoke with a local food safety expert to get the facts about this meat additive and to find out if it is as dangerous as everyone believes.
"Pink slime" or lean finely textured beef isn't a new food. Dr. Gary Acuff, director of the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M, says the beef industry has been using this type of meat for more than 30 years.
"It has a structure that makes it look less like beef and more like past and so that's a concern. People look at it and say this doesn't look like something I want to eat and so there's a mysterious ick factor with it."
But Dr. Acuff says despite what people have heard, LFTB or lean finely textured beef, is safe to eat.
"It's what allows us to consistently make ground beef at a lean and fat level that consumers want to buy."
LFTB is made up of lean meat from leftover steak scraps that is then ground up and cleaned with ammonia, which is the part that has consumers concerned but Dr. Acuff says the cleaning process is necessary.
"The ammonia has been used to make it safer so it's less likely that the pathogens or pathogenic bacteria might be present."
So why has there been so much controversy over the use of LFTB?
Dr. Acuff believes it's because consumers are misinformed.
"No matter how many people explain the process, if they still find it distasteful and they don't find it esthetically appealing then they won't buy it. And that's the bottom line."
As of now, LFTB does not have to be labeled on the packaging but that could be changing soon if consumers demand it.