This recent hubbub about pink slime had us freaked. We love hamburgers. Typically we don't worry much about fallout from our our bar-food-and-beer diet. But when we spotted photos on Facebook of "lean, finely textured beef," aka pink slime, our once impervious stomach churned.
LFTB is supposed to be meat. It's made with connective tissue and fatty scraps. Bits are warmed, blended and treated with ammonium hydroxide, a chemical also used in cleaning products, fertilizers and explosives. In LFTB, it's used to kill salmonella and E. coli.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says LFTB is "generally recognized as safe." Even so, a mounting public outcry prompted McDonalds to pull the goo from its burgers last August. ABC News reported earlier this month that the stuff is in as much as 70 percent of hamburger sold in supermarkets. Montana Sen. Jon Tester joined the growing outcry March 19, calling upon the USDA to take it off school lunch menus. During the past several days, grocery chains including Albertson's and Safeway said they would stop selling it.
But what about bar burgers? Missoula bars wouldn't serve us slime, would they?
Flipper's Casino offers our favorite burger. Flipper's, we learned, gets its ground beef from K and C Foods in Missoula. Our stomach still churning, we visited K and C.
Walking into K and C's Alder Street headquarters brought an immediate sense of relief. To the left, atop a stainless steel counter, sat four large and beautiful hunks of beef. To the right sat James "Whitey" Caplis, who has owned K and C Foods since 1959. He's 82, hard of hearing and ornery. He quickly put our doubts to rest. "I don't buy that," he said. "I don't even put it in my sausages. You get straight burger."
The hunks of beef on the counter were recently bulls roaming a Butte ranch, he said. Caplis adds fattier pieces from larger cuts, too. Those come from St. Helen's Beef in Washington. The result is a burger that's about 85 percent lean, is 15 percent fat and comes with no pink slime.
Caplis also sells ground beef to Curley's Broiler, Paul's Pancake Parlor, the Press Box, Tamarack Brewing Co., the Missoula Club, the Shack and the Big Sky Drive-In.
We are so relieved. And now, back to our diet.