This is one of the reasons I try to make my meat purchases from sources who graze cows exclusively on grass. Cows and other ruminants evolved to eat grass, not so much grains. Industrial feedlots feed cows grains (and now, industrial by-products from grain distilleries) to make them grow unnaturally fast, and it makes them fat and sick. Just like they do to humans. Sick cattle depend on large quantities of antibiotics to keep them alive, which breeds super-strains of E-coli and other nasties that end up in our food and water supply.
But pink slime, as Grist writer Tom Laskaway says, is the tip of the iceberg; it’s a symptom, not a disease. Remember why it was originally created — to eliminate bacteria found in ground meat. The fact that pink slime was a “solution” might lead you to ask: What’s the problem?
The answer lies in the industrial production of livestock on a scale that’s far too large to sustain without significant collateral damage. E. coli, found in the digestive tracts of cattle, is common on factory farms where cattle are fed only grain. (Their stomachs are meant to digest grass.) The incomprehensible quantity of manure produced by these cattle — also often containing E. coli — is deposited on the land, sometimes seeping into the water supply; that’s how you wind up with E. coli in vegetables. To make matters worse, “healthy” farm animals are routinely fed so many antibiotics that E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens are developing resistance to commonly prescribed drugs.
— Mark Bittman, The Pink Menace, New York Times April 3, 2012