Monday, June 02, 2014

Mostly Untrue.... How to Lie with Facts part whatever...

A couple months back I wrote a few posts in a row about how we are lied to using common misunderstandings about science, basic facts, statistics, percentages and the like...

Time to address another one...

So, popular facebook meme:

True or Not?

MOSTLY untrue...

The first part of it being mostly untrue, is that McDonalds has announced that it already does not use "mechanically separated and recovered beef slurry" in most of their patties in most of their locations; and that for those who do, they will cease doing so.

For the other part of it being mostly untrue... that's where we get into lying with science, and misapplication and overgeneralization etc...

Its a semantic issue, and a matter of lying using the facts without context.

Yes, every major food processors lower cost frozen beef patties are made at least in part, with mechanically separated and recovered beef (the same is true of chicken patties and nuggets).

First thing there is, mechanically separated beef IS "real" beef. It just looks gross and has no texture.

Now... Some of it, from some processors, is cleansed with ammonia, from others it isn't.

However, in either case, it is generally cleansed, neutralized, flushed and rinsed with either saline solution or pure distilled water, and only trace amounts of ammonia remain.

Also, this is a standard technique... in fact, sometimes an FDA MANDATED technique... for maintaining sanitation in all processed meats including ground beef and beef that has been broken down into primals and subprimals at a processing facility (i.e. anything smaller than a side of beef that gets shipped to your supermarket for their own butchers to break down... which means almost all beef sold in the U.S. today; generally referred to as "boxed beef").

In any case, what remains in the food product prior to shipment is so low as to require a lab to detect it... Lower than the levels likely to be present in your own kitchen.

Mechanically separated meat is indistinguishable in lab tests from other meat except in that when handled properly it actually has LESS chemical trace AND less pathogen trace, than most ground beef.

Further, it has been in used for over 100 years, and it does NOT cause cancer.

Nor does ammonia in the extremely tiny amounts remaining in any food product. If it did, we would all get cancer from the trace amounts of ammonia left in our kitchens from using windex.

So.. you can't say it's absolutely 100% false... and some of the bare facts are at least in part correct... But basically the graphic is a lie.

The meme itself by the way was created by an anti-meat raw food advocacy group, who run the website "".