Eat Well

School Burgers Have 26 Ingredients

We all recently learned that ammonia-treated beef, aka “pink slime”, was served in school burgers. But what else is in there? NPR’s Allison Aubrey explains it all in Tiny Desk Kitchen. Watch and learn!

Thought a burger was just beef? Not so fast. The burgers served in school lunches are much more complicated. Sure, there’s beef, but there are 25 other ingredients as well. According to this video by NPR, some of those added ingredients are added vitamins, such as Riboflavin, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Monotitrate, and Zinc Oxide. But the taste of vitamins is bitter, so other ingredients are added to cover the flavor. While the added garlic and onions don’t present a problem, the added sugar might.

Other additions are soy flour, yeast, and caramel color, as well as the mysterious “natural flavor” which seems to pop up in everything (I wonder if it’s the same ingredient everywhere or if it’s a category of things). The soy, yeast and caramel give the revamped burger the look and feel of a traditional one.

While everything added to these burgers isn’t bad (the video points out that even commercial veggie burgers have some of the same items), the added ingredients are not what most of us expect to be in something labelled as a meat. And, while the addition of vitamins and minerals can make the burger seemingly more nutritious, it can also make it easier to create a “burger” without much actual meat.

People say that, in the future, our food will be made from replicators. It seems like we’re almost there.