Fatty slaughterhouse trimmings that previously could be used only for pet food or for making cooking oil are now being treated with an ammonia bath that produces a “pink slime” that is being used to make a treated product being sold as “hamburger” throughout the United States.

In a report that was difficult for some to read, the New York Times yesterday told the story of how a little known South Dakota company and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service since 2001 have worked together to allow bacteria-killing ammonia to be used as a “processing agent” to make a mash that is allowed to be used in hamburger without labeling or public warnings.

Spokesmen for McDonald’s and Burger King told the Washington Post the fast food hamburger joints plan to keep using the “pink slime” sold by Dakota Dunes, SD-based Beef Products Inc.

Beef Products Inc. was so successful in persuading FSIS of the effectiveness of its pathogen-killing ammonia that the company was exempted from routine testing.  However, the New York Times found government and industry records showing the substance Beef Products makes was contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella on numerous occasions.

Beef Products owner Eldon Roth makes big political contributions, mostly to politicians from both parties in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska.  He contributed to both former President George W. Bush in 2004 and Sen. John McCain in 2008. His donations total six figures in the last decade, including his support for meat industry political action committees.

Nationally recognized food safety attorney Bill Marler said the New York Times story is one people should read in its entirety.  “It will make you look at hamburger differently, ” he said.  “It will also make you ashamed of corporate America and our own government.”

A glimpse of the “hamburger” production can be found in the following clip from “Food, Inc.”