McDonald’s ‘Pink Slime’ Chemical

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When one thinks of McDonald’s, quality and health are not exactly the first terms that come to mind. However, we knowingly consume their food on a level at which even the likes of Jabba the Hutt would be incapable of surpassing. We are all guilty. We choose to eat McDonald’s despite our understanding of the consequences.

In retrospect, our lack of self control is almost pathetic. Granted some have a superhuman ability to reject the temptations of fast food, I for one, am incapable of resisting the allure of one of the world’s largest fast food chains. And when it was revealed that McDonald’s was using ammonium hydroxide (which can aptly be described as “pink slime”) among other questionable chemicals as an ingredient in their burgers, I was not as disturbed as I probably should have been. Given that our desire for Chicken McNuggets seemingly cannot be satiated, this discovery most likely did not deter the rest of America’s unhealthy obsession with McDonald’s either.

Yet McDonald’s is not the only guilty party accused of incorporating the “pink slime” into their menu. Many other fast food chains have included ammonium hydroxide in their food in order to make otherwise unusable meat suitable for human consumption. While the U.S. Agriculture Department has deemed the chemical as being safe, we must be able to distinguish and draw the line between what is natural and what is completely inedible. The “pink slime” is, without a doubt, quite disgusting. However, we cannot place all of the blame upon McDonald’s.

While it is the responsibility of such fast food chains to provide an at least somewhat healthy meal, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to educate himself on the matters of his own personal health and to make the conscious decision to incite a restriction on his eating habits. Such a decision is one that everybody, myself included, must make.

Fortunately, as the awareness of the use of ammonium hydroxide has been growing steadily, McDonald’s has since stated that it has put a stop to the use of the chemical in question. The fast food giant had apparently come to this decision last August in an attempt “to align our global standards for how we source beef around the world.” At this, I am somewhat skeptical. If the chemical was such an integral part of making their meat suitable for human consumption, how is McDonald’s currently producing edible meat without the help of such a preservative? One must question whether the chemical has simply been replaced with something equally as detrimental.

Frankly, the statement concerning McDonald’s use of “pink slime” has not been that clear at all. Clarity is a key factor in explaining the truth, and McDonald’s has not necessarily provided it. Still, we must give credit where it is due — the fast food chain has at least made some effort into addressing the issue.

What we can take from this situation is that better food standards must be established while we as consumers must come to terms with our dangerous eating habits in order for real change to occur. The fast food industry must initiate the implementation of healthier choices and promote the usage of safer ingredients to provide a product that exudes quality. Meanwhile, as individuals, consumers must compromise between taste and healthiness and apply better judgment to their decisions. Only then, can the true evolution of the fast food industry occur for the better. As of now, it seems as if we are failing at a rate that is truly alarming.

While McDonald’s must realize their obligation to their customers, fast-food junkies must also change their ways. I must change my ways. Otherwise, we may just begin to engulf ourselves in a vicious cycle involving uncontrollable eating amid intermittent sobs. Ultimately, McDonald’s’ active decision to discontinue its use of ammonium hydroxide in burgers is a good, albeit small, step in the right direction. Now let us all just hope we can begin to do our part and recognize good health when we see it.

 

Patrick Chung is a first-year comparative literature major. He can be reached at pychung1@uci.edu. 

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