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The Sliming of Pink Slime's Creator

Web reaction to the harvesting of meat scraps results in customers leaving and plants closing
Made from meat scraps, textured beef can make hamburger leaner. Ammonia used in the processing helped stoked a Web controversy
Made from meat scraps, textured beef can make hamburger leaner. Ammonia used in the processing helped stoked a Web controversyIllustration by Shawn Hasto and Jamie Goldenberg

Thirty-one years ago, a young man with no college degree and the restless mind of a tinkerer started an unusual meat-processing company. Eldon Roth’s Beef Products Inc. (BPI) bought tons of fatty scraps left over after cattle were carved into steaks and roasts. Roth concocted a way to use centrifuges to spin the fat away and quick-freeze the remaining meat into a pink pulp that made ground beef leaner when it was mixed in. He called it “lean finely textured beef.” McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Stores, Burger King, Kroger, and Taco Bell used it. Roth opened plants in Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska, employing about 1,500 workers. He was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame last fall in a ceremony that brought him to tears.

Seeking to avoid food contamination, BPI founder Eldon Roth added ammonium hydroxide as a safety measure
Courtesy BPI