That's what is in a McDonald's or Burger King hamburger, and maybe your grocery store ground beef too. Actually, it is beef renderings treated with ammonia to kill the pathogens. The treated meat is then mixed with ground beef. The process was devised by a company Beef Products as a way to treat and use less desirable parts of the animal and thus bring down the price of ground beef. The company also claimed that when the ammonia-treated meat was mixed with the rest of the ground beef pathogens in the untreated meat would also be killed.
The FDA allowed the company to not label ammonia as an ingredient in the meat, but numerous large-scale buyers of the beef like schools and prisons have complained about the ammonia smell in the meat. A former USDA microbiologist called the processed beef "pink slime" in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues and said, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”
The company 's processed meat had a USDA exemption from regular testing of its meat but that exemption has now been lifted as random testing by other agencies has found pathogens in Beef Products meat, and it has come to light that in response to complaints about the ammonia smell the company has lowered the level of ammonia used. This takes care of the smell problem but potentially raises the level of pathogens left in the meat.
For consumers of ground beef this whole process is just now coming to light. Who knew our "100 per cent" ground beef contained "pink slime?"