The news that McDonald's will be stopping the use of 'pink slime' -- essentially random beef offcuts mixed with ammonium hydroxide -- in its burgers has been the subject of fervent online coverage. But local Maccas fiends shouldn't panic: the additive isn't (and hasn't ever been) used in the Australian product.
Picture by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The burger chain's move away from using the substance in the US followed a TV campaign by Jamie Oliver. Other US fast-food chains, including Burger King and Taco Bell, have also stopped using ingredients which include the substance.
I've seen reports of this pop up in both my Facebook profile and Twitter feed, most of them passed on by Aussies. And in that context, it seems worth pointing out: McDonald's doesn't use ammonium hydroxide as an additive in foods in its burgers in Australia. Nor do any of its fast-food or supermarket rivals.
I double-checked with McDonald's Australia, and a spokesperson told me:
We've never had that in our patties.
Whatever issues you might have with burgers in Australia, 'pink slime' (in the sense currently being discussed all over the interwebz) is not going to be one of them.
As we've noted before when attempting to make our own Big Macs, the patties used by McDonald's in Australia contain beef and nothing else. It's often assumed that the burgers are loaded with additives (one Lifehacker commenter was convinced they had added MSG to the meat), but as the ingredients list on the Australian McDonald's site confirms, there's nothing else going on with the burger patties themselves. The same appears to be true in the UK; McDonald's might have a global menu, but it has to respect the food standards laws in each country (and also varying consumer expectations).
One friend of mine commented when linking to the reports: "If they use this, they'll use anything." And if you're keen to avoid food additives, there are certainly other elements of the burgers and drinks that might give you pause -- though again that would be true for virtually all fast food. I'm all for choosing your food carefully, but I'm also keen on getting the facts straight. Just because something is (or was) true in the US doesn't make it true everywhere.