Pink SlimeGrowing public awareness about the ways food is modified, treated and processed has put the food industry on the defensive. While some companies are pushing for increased disclosure requirements to win back the public's trust, others are fighting tooth-and-nail to maintain the right to deceive.

Let's take a look at three big lies food companies have been feeding consumers -- and the facts which those companies are still hoping to keep you in the dark about.

1. Your Chicken Has Been to the Pharmacy.

Chickens raised on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, arsenic, and active ingredients from Prozac, Tylenol and Benadryl, according to two recent studies. Even more worrisome is that one of these studies showed that many chicken feathers contained traces of fluoroquinolones -- antibiotics banned in chicken production because of their capacity to breed antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, which pose increasing health risks to humans.

While it's unclear right now how many of these chemicals we ingest and in what quantities, discoveries like these have led to growing concerns about health risks posed by industrial farming.

2. Did You Order Your Hamburger a Little Pink and Slimy?

Recently, public outrage has erupted from the realization that many ground beef products contained "lean, finely textured beef," or LFTB -- disparagingly nicknamed "pink slime." This product is created by taking beef trimmings, separating the meat from the fat, and treating the meat with ammonium hydroxide to kill dangerous bacteria.

Ammonia-treated filler known as

Defenders of the product have claimed that it is safe, and that cooking causes the ammonium hydroxide in LFTB to evaporate before the beef product is consumed. Still, the lack of disclosure about this process certainly raises questions.

Pink Slime SignIn the wake of public outrage about pink slime, several companies announced they would stop selling products with LFTB -- among them, major grocery chains Kroger (KR), Safeway (SWY), and SuperValu (SVU). Fast-food giants McDonald's (MCD), Burger King, and Yum! Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell also announced that they would stop using the product.

However, there are some companies, including Tyson (TSN) and Cargill, that apparently wish to continue using LFTB. They've requested permission from the FDA to label the products in hopes that doing so will win back the trust of their consumers.


Consumers who are worried about LFTB products should note that many processed chicken products include mechanically separated poultry, or MSP, which is produced by a similar process that also involves meat trimmings and occasional treatment with ammonia. However, unlike LFTB, products with MSP must be labeled.

3. I'd Like a Genetically Modified Salad, Dressing on the Side.

Vermont lawmakers recently tried to pass a law that would require food manufacturers to label products that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, but postponed voting on the bill due to a threat from agricultural giant Monsanto (MON) to sue the state if the bill were passed.

The bill would prevent products made with genetically modified crops from being labeled as "natural," "naturally made," "naturally grown," or "all natural."

Why would Vermont want to require foods with GMOs to be labeled? Health and environmental experts have a number of concerns about GMOs. Some worry that these crops have the potential to introduce new allergens and build up resistance to antibiotics, that they may contain toxic substances, and that they can be less nutritious than their "natural" forebears.

Gallery: The Shocking Truth About These "Indie" Brands
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Finally, some argue that GMOs have the potential to eliminate genetic diversity among our crops, which can increase dependence on companies like Monsanto to provide seeds and other agricultural materials. Elimination of genetic diversity also increases the risk that a single pathogen will be able to wipe out an entire food source.

While the FDA has deemed all of these products safe for consumption, many activists disagree, and consumers are starting to push for increased transparency so they can decide for themselves.

Motley Fool contributor M. Joy Hayes, Ph.D. is the principal at ethics consulting firm Courageous Ethics. She owns shares of McDonald's. Follow @JoyofEthics on Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of SuperValu. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's and Yum Brands, as well as buying calls on Super.




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88 Comments

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craigmrfrn

Strangely enough, I bought some chemicals from China, and it turned out that they where contaminated with infant formula.

I can't figure it out.

April 20 2012 at 6:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
craigmrfrn

Now I know why dog and cat food prices have gone up, they found a way to feed it to us, meant as sarcasm, it's most likely true!

My Soylent Green is Really "lean, finely textured Homo sapien,"

April 20 2012 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joaniedogood

Good reading----very informative!

April 20 2012 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

These are not "lies". That is a lie. Why do the AOL leftists have to try to demonize businesses?

There is nothing wrong with full public disclosure for all food products. But the hysteria and lack of substance of this article is appalling. There are many sources of REAL information available to the public.

The Obama-propaganda-media, AOL/HuffPuff, is a yellow rag. And look at it gets to blog these leftist screeds ... Does she have any expertise? Is AOL "LYING" to you by presenting this as an authoritative article?

"Ph.D."??? Anyone wondering why the title? Anyone assuming that this person has a "Ph.D." in any of the sciences that are relevant to the subject of this "article"? Noooooooooo.

The "author" has a "Ph.D." in "Ethics"! A young woman with a "doctorate" in "Ethics".

Is this really the best that the absurd leftists at AOL can come up with?

The real question is: WHAT LIES IS AOL FEEDING YOU?

April 20 2012 at 6:19 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ha6ai's comment
golf_pro

We demonize business because of their proven track record of reckless disregard for public health.
However , if you are truly stupid enough to still put faith in said business than by all means don't
let us stop you from enjoying their " fine" products for if you are indeed that stupid than you deserve
to get sick from eating their " food". You seem one who wishes everything to live or die by the free
market and if that be the case then gear your head gear on Mrs. Stupid because the free market is
gunning for your dumbass. Our capitalistic cannibal system is all about competition and you think that
because of this bad products will eventually die off but the truth is the good competition is devoured by
those who are willing to throw away morals and feed us the cheapest crap they can find so as to increase profit. Their lies depend of the utter blind stupidity of mindless sheep like you. So thanks a lot for keeping them in business so long. You've been soooo much help in the fight for intellegence in our gene pool. Remember , dumbass , that once the corporations destroy the competition they will train their ruthless eyes on you the consumer and they don't care whether you are well or sick as long as you are still buying their crap.

June 26 2012 at 9:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teedee911

Monsanto is more powerful than you will ever know. They will eventually own the genetics to anything
grown, and you will buy it, eat it, and if so be it, you'll die from it. End of story, no stopping them, not even
the federal government. Think I'm joking? Take a GOOD look at Monsanto over the past 30 years, and I mean
a real GOOD look. Anyone who is at the top (and I DO mean TOP) of his or her legal game, works for Monsanto. Hands down the best legal defense in the world......the world.

Enjoy your dinner....

April 19 2012 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bobeggs

Number one recalled food is organic produce. Factor that into your hysteria. Without GMO foods the world would starve. But that doesn't affect the purists who really don't care. Let's stay in touch with reality and leave the new
Luddites to their own little fantasy dream world of a time that never existed.

April 19 2012 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bobeggs's comment
Sasha

The world will NOT starve without the use of GMO. False statement. It is a proven fact that well managed agriculture can produce more than enough food. I would mind a GM food that increases yield or increases nutrition BUT I don't want a genetically altered food product that enhances TOXIC CHEMICALS...... That is just bill$hit. .... and the only way it works is to PURCHASE MONSANTO insecticide?????? do they want to control the world much????

April 19 2012 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bagthepi

Since Monsanto thinks they own the world and our food supply, I suggest that all those farms and suppliers who DON'T use GMO seeds or products be encouraged to use that statement as part of their ongoing PR and advertising. If the government can't make Monsanto label their GMO products, then let's get the little guys to advertise NON-GMO, and let's get busy and buy those unaltered products and foods. Money talks and ......walks. It's time for us to do work.

April 19 2012 at 1:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mb1958

I am a scientist, but have not tested food substances. Recently, my family stopped buying genetically altered food and started eating "organically grown" meat, fruit, and vegitables. The food tastes better and I don't worry that we will all die of Cancer from the horrible chemicals that are added. I noticed immediately the tomatoes don't taste like tissue paper. Yes, we are paying a little more but then I don't have to wonder about outfits like Monsanto, a chemical company is screwing with our dinner. As more of us buy organic foods the price will come down. Don't trust the Government to protect our food supply, they are dishonest and bought and paid for by these huge food producers. The FDA is crippled by its dishonesty and scared and bullied by the food and drug conglomerates.

April 19 2012 at 12:51 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
r4249622

PDBLIZ: If you promise to go back and take advantage of our free educational system and get thru 7th grade I will respond.

April 19 2012 at 12:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dirk

pdbliz - if you can't even spell "democrats", let ALONE "bankrupting" or any of the other host of idiocies in your statement, you're better off not voting at all.

April 19 2012 at 11:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply