The recent national coverage of pink slime (aka lean beef treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria like E. coli and salmonella most often found in packaged ground beef) propelled us to want to write about the practices and guidelines we issue our VSAG restaurant consulting clients on buying beef safe enough to serve.
It goes without saying that restaurants should be vigilant about the quality of beef they buy and serve, and vendors they use. Some tips to help you along the way:
Labels Matter. Now more than ever, food labels matter. You want to know unequivocally what you are buying and ultimately serving to guests. As we mentioned in our March 23, 2012 blog post A Petition for Transparency in Food Labeling, through the ‘Just Label it!’ campaign, VSAG has taken part in a petition to request that the FDA ask producers of all genetically modified items, including beef, to clearly label them as such. We believe that everyone has the right to know where their food comes from and how it got to their plate.
All-Natural Beef. The best way to protect from pink slime or any other unnatural beef additive is to purchase all-natural beef. All-natural beef is meat that is minimally processed and that has no artificial ingredients. At VSAG, we go a step further and are even more specific with the vendors we use for our sustainable restaurants and only buy beef that is raised without hormones, antibiotics, steroids or supplements and are fed an all-natural, vegetarian diet without any recycled or processed foods.
As professional restaurant consultants, we at VSAG know the importance of keeping beef products (and all ingredients) safe for consumption. And the recent pink slime scandal only solidified that fact. So, keep these all-natural practices in mind when finding vendors and purchasing beef products.