If the U.S. were to lay down the law on product labeling like Finland does, Chicken McNuggets would have to be renamed “McNuggets” and Cheez Whiz would have to be changed to “Whiz.”
Finnish news outlet YLE explains that according to Finnish law, mechanically recovered meat scraps aren’t legally considered “meat,” so Finnish wholesaler Kesko has renamed its prepackaged meatballs “pyöryköitä”—which translates to “balls” in English.
Photo: Flickr/Kiran Foster
Ruokakesko product research manager Heta Rautpalo explains,
These balls (sic) have the equivalent of 52 percent meat. However according to current legislation, they aren’t those parts of the animal that can be described as meat.”
Whatever, those balls are perfect.
What we don’t get is this: Your grandma’s meatball recipe probably used whatever meat scraps she had on hand. Much like soul food made a virtue out of crafting otherwise discarded ingredients into something tasty and nourishing, meatballs have incorporated meat, bread, and other unwanted scraps since the first grandma threw some ingredients in a bowl and started rolling.
But that could just be our comparatively low American standards talking. As Quartz points out, the USDA has separate definitions for several different grades of meat scraps, including both mechanically separated meats and poultry, as well as pink slime.
Investigative site Pro Publica has a handy breakdown of the differences between pink slime (aka “lean finely textured beef”), and mechanically separated meat, as well as a special section on the disturbing process known as “advanced meat recovery.” Among other things Pro Publica points out: mechanically separated beef became prohibited for human food use in 2004 over concerns about mad cow disease.
Finland’s standards, meanwhile, wouldn’t even bother to classify this stuff with made-up terms like “lean finely textured beef” or “mechanically separated meat”—because to Finland, it isn’t even any kind of meat at all.
We just wish it was a Swedish company that made this announcement, because the thought of millions of people going to Ikea and ordering a plate of tasty Swedish balls slathered in white sauce would totally make our day.
[via YLE, Quartz]