Brian Blum
April 10, 2012, Updated May 15, 2012
Pink slime (image from KSDK TV, Saint Louis)

Kosher food is often equated with being healthier. While I’ve taken comfort in this conjecture, it’s not really true. Kosher food can be filled with just as many preservatives and unhealthy processed mysteries as non-kosher food. And as scandals over the past years at kosher meat plants in the U.S. have proven, slaughter according to Jewish law can be fraught with corruption and less than sanitary practices.

But an article in this week’s Ynet (and reported earlier on the Green Prophet blog) indicates that in at least one area, kosher most definitely trumps treife: at McDonald’s in Israel.

McDonald’s – as well as other fast food chains – came under fire when celebrity chef Jamie Oliver exposed the fact that the Golden Arches was using something called “boneless lean beef trimmings” in their burgers. Oliver referred to it derisively as “pink slime” on an episode of his TV show (here’s the video).

These trimmings apparently consist of what’s left of the meat after all the choice cuts of beef are taken. They’re then run through a centrifuge and treated with ammonium hydroxide (an ingredient used in household cleaning agents) in order to kill off bacteria such as E. coli.

That makes the slime safe for human consumption…at least in the U.S. Boneless lean beef trimmings are banned for people in the U.K., and are used for dog and chicken food instead.

Sounds absolutely yummy.

The good news is that McDonald’s in Israel have never used the pink slime in their burgers, since boneless lean beef trimmings could potentially include parts of the cow that are not OK from a kashrut perspective. That applies to both kosher and non-kosher certified McDonald’s – both import their beef from the same plants in South America via the Israeli Of Tov company.

Kind of makes you proud to be an Israeli fast foodie.

All this doesn’t give McDonald’s a pass on the detrimental-to-your-health scale: 100% beef or not, the calories, fat and sugar in a McDonald’s meal are definitely not as happy as Hamburglar might have wooed us into complacency when we were younger and hooked on Saturday morning cartoons. Want more convincing: just watch Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me and you’ll be a budding vegan in under 90 minutes.

McDonald’s has since announced that it is no longer using pink slime in its burgers in the U.S.

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