Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ammonia Burgers & Other Gross Food Facts

My journey towards a healthier lifestyle began many years ago when I decided that staying thin by being smart was better than staying thin by not eating.  I immediately bought a ticket and hopped on board the 'Fat Free' train.  I could never do Atkins, because I can't live without bread, but cutting out fat grams was a piece of cake - so to speak.  The sad thing is that I was genuinely trying to be healthy. 

I spent all those years worrying about how much fat was in my food but never really wondered what else might be in there.  A couple of years ago that started to change.  I'm not really sure what triggered my new awareness, but I'm definitely glad that it got triggered.  Each new article I read was followed by a slight shift in the culinary landscape of my kitchen. I felt enlightened.  I was happy to be re-educating myself about food.  A truly healthy lifestyle was out there, somewhere.  All I had to do was just make the right choices and I would find it.  It was like a little puzzle, but not a really hard one.  At least that's what I used to think.

I learned some things recently that completely blew me away.  For example, did you know that the FDA allows a certain amount of rat poop and maggots into our processed foods?  It's a very small amount, to be sure, but it's there.  By the time I learned this, I had already transitioned away from most processed foods opting instead for fresh fruits and vegetables so that I could prepare everything from scratch.  Still, it disturbs me to know what I consumed for so many years.

The other interesting tidbit that I learned was much more relevant to me.  I had no idea that much of the hamburger meat we consume - whether it's a fast food burger or a pound of meat purchased from your local retailer - has been treated with ammonia.  The largest producer of ground beef in the world is a company called Beef Products, Inc.  When processing ground beef, BPI uses parts of the cow that would normally not be approved for human consumption because of the extremely high risk of E-coli contamination.  BPI grinds these parts into the beef and treats the mixture with ammonia gas to kill the E-coli.  You can visit their website and read all about how safe this is.  After all, ammonia is naturally occurring, right?  Hemlock is naturally occurring, too, but I won't be serving it at my dinner table.

Am I the only one who didn't know this stuff?  How could I have known?  If I'd had a clue that this was even possible, I certainly would have done some research, asked questions.  But how do you know what you don't know?  How do you know that you need to ask if your hamburger meat contains ammonia or if there is rat poop in your processed food? 

Ok, readers.  Now it's your turn. Have you learned anything about food that drastically changed your eating/shopping/cooking habits?  Or do you just not care what's in your food as long as it's fast and tasty?  Feel free to comment here on this blog.  Anonymous comments are allowed - just keep it clean, folks.  You can also email me at if you prefer.

I look forward to hearing your input and, hopefully, learning a few things.


  1. Heya, found you through Foodbuzz :)

    Have you been to the Earthfare here in Knoxville? There are two locations @ Bearden and Turkey Creek.

    The difference in quality, tenderness, and flavor of their meat and fish compared to other places is tremendous, and no, I don't work for them. lol

    check out

  2. TKN,thanks for the link. I shop at Earth Fare often. It's the only place I buy meat and you are absolutely right about the difference in quality.