Meat Quality and Paleo

One very, very important distinction about the True Paleo regime is the source, and subsequent quality, of our proteins.

Fresh, wild salmon and packaged, smoked salmon are not interchangeable.  Nor are the occasional serving of uncured bacon from pastured pork and the Oscar Meyer’s shrink-wrapped, sodium nitrate and nitrite-rich variety.

And when we get into the real nitty-gritty, things like regularly eating hot dogs, sausages, deli meats and the like, it gets even more straight forward:  for the most part, avoid it.

Unless you’re getting sliced, cooked turkey that came from a pastured bird and was prepared with nothing added, or you personally know the farm that makes the sausages out of nothing  but grass fed meat in pastured pork casing, chances are far greater than not, that what you’re getting will contain any combination of the following (ingredient label from the original Ball Park Frank with descriptions courtesy of Green Food Living):

  • Mechanically separated turkey: Looking more like strawberry frosting than blended meat and bone bits, the USDA defines mechanically separated poultry (MSP) as “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.” Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.
  • Pork: According to 1994 USDA rules, any meat labeled as the meat it is can be taken off the bone by advanced meat recovery (AMR) machinery that “separates meat from bone by scraping, shaving, or pressing the meat from the bone without breaking or grinding the bone.”
  • Corn syrup: A combo of cornstarch and acids, corn syrup is used as a thickener and sweetener, as MSNBC notes — it contains no nutrients but does add extra calories.
  • Beef: In 2004, to protect consumers against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease), mechanically separated beef was considered inedible and prohibited for use as human food, so be glad you won’t be finding it in your dog.
  • Potassium lactate: This hydroscopic, white, odorless solid is prepared commercially by the neutralization of lactic acid with potassium hydroxide. The FDA allows its use as as a flavor enhancer, flavoring agent, humectant, pH control agent, and for inhibiting the growth of certain pathogens.
  • Sodium phosphates: Any of three sodium salt of phosphoric acids that can be used as a food preservative or to add texture — because texture is important when you’re eating a tube of meat paste.
  • Flavorings: Under current FDA guidelines, most flavoring agents allowed to be listed as “flavor” rather specified individually, so, this remains a bit of a mystery.
  • Sodium diacetate:  The FDA allows its use as an antimicrobial agent, a flavoring agent and adjuvant, a pH control agent, and as an inhibitor of the growth of certain pathogens.
  • Sodium erythorbate:  Side effects have been reported, such as dizziness, gastrointestinal issues, headaches and on occasion, kidney stones.
  • Maltodextrin
  • Sodium nitrate

Compare that to what you’d be eating if you simply ate a grass-fed steak.   There would be no need for an ingredient label, but if there were, it would be:

  • Grass Fed Steak

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a pack of hotdogs is a cost-effective way to get your protein.   Even bunless with no side of fries, they’re still a Paleo No Go.