There’s a company in the news that’s been treating beef by injecting it with ammonia, which purportedly can help kill e. coli within. I remember years ago, the local soda fountains served up cokes with a shot of spirits of ammonia (aka smelling salts), to add a bit of that acrid, smelling-salts-like flavor.  Back in the day, they put a lot of stuff in coke, it seems.

A December 2009 NY Times report about treating beef with ammonia discusses the “pink slime” made out of beef material, which later ends up in hamburger:

… a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. …  The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times …  challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment.

One official

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.”

At any rate, there’s been a serious upgrade in the scrutiny of this stuff, and a number of issues have been uncovered.  In large measure, this matter gets back to the point, made by many food advocates, that hamburger really can have virtually anything in it.

And what about ammonia coke? As we find at Artof Drink.com:

So what does an Ammonia Coke taste like? Well, it’s actually pretty decent. I used a part dose of 20 drops (1ml) to test it out first. The full dose is 3 scruples; 3.75ml; or about ¾ of a teaspoon, in a glass of Coke. The neutralizing properties are evident as the acidity of the Coca-Cola is reduced, not in a bad way though. The ammonia is perceptible, and might be a little more obvious when using a larger measure. There is potential for wider use, but more experimentation is needed. The most important part is that it does knock out the acidity of drinks.


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