US fast food giants stop using ammonia in meats

McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell in the US have finally agreed to stop using ammonia hydroxide in their hamburger meat.

The product, which is commonly known as ‘pink slime,’ is used to kill E-Coli, Salmonella and other pathogens mostly found in meat that is suitable for dog food.

But industrial cleaning products and an explosive ingredient found in ammonia hydroxide led celebrity chef and health campaigner Jamie Oliver to call for the additive to be banned.

The United States’ food safety regulator, the US Food and Drug Administration, considers the use of ammonia in food products to be safe but Oliver has been targeting the chemical as he continues his campaign across America, trying to educate people about nutrition and change eating behaviors, particularly in schools.

Many people were unaware of the presence of the chemical in various foods in the US and did not know how much of it they were eating in their daily lives until Oliver revealed the extent on his TV series Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Last year the Victorian government announced it would be spending $40 million on a Ministry of Food Campaign, modeled off Oliver’s, to educate people about proper nutrition and exercise.

Oliver has said that while he is not against hamburgers as such, he does believe the use of ‘pink slime’ to process third-rate cuts of meat so they seem edible, should be banned.

Today McDonald’s in the US announced it had stopped using scrap meat treated with ammonia several months ago, but denied it was due to pressure from Oliver and the public.

Food Magazine contacted McDonald’s Australia this morning to find out if the chemical is also used here.

“Absolutely not, we have never used it here,” the spokesperson said.

“We use 100 per cent Australian beef.”

Hungry Jack’s, the Australian version of Burger King, said in a statement to Food Magazine that it does not use the chemical either.

"Hungry Jack’s does not, and never has used the additive, ammonium hydroxide, within its products," it said.

"Ammonium hydroxide is not manufactured within Australia, and cannot be imported under Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) legislation."



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