March 16 Update:
Care2 Success! Over 11,000 Care2 members have so far signed our petition telling the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop buying “pink slime” for use in school lunches.
Now the department has announced that schools that get their ground beef from the federal government will now have the option of buying it with or without “pink slime.”
In a statement issued yesterday, the USDA said that although the product is safe to eat, “due to customer demand, the department will be adjusting procurement specifications for the next school year so schools can have additional options in procuring ground-beef products. USDA will provide schools with a choice to order product either with or without Lean Finely Textured Beef.”
However, the problem remains that schools may not be able to find ground beef without pink slime, so we need to keep telling the USDA that the only acceptable ground beef is free of pink slime.
In case you’re not familiar with this lovely term, “pink slime” is used to describe a ground-up combination of beef scraps, cow connective tissues and other beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It’s then blended into meat products like ground beef and hamburger patties. Sounds delicious, right?
Horrifyingly, just as these fast-food giants have agreed to get rid of the substance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying 7 million pounds of pink slime for use in school lunches.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Just this week, pink slime got a de facto endorsement from none other than the USDA, which plans to keep buying millions of pounds of it for use in the National School Lunch Program.
According to The Daily, pink slime made up 6.5 percent of the beef purchased by the USDA for the school lunch program last year.
From The Daily:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s continued purchase of so-called pink slime for school lunches makes no sense, according to two former microbiologists at the Food Safety Inspection Service.
“I have a 2-year-old son,” microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein told The Daily. “And you better believe I don’t want him eating pink slime when he starts going to school.”
It was Zirnstein who first coined the term “pink slime” after touring a Beef Products Inc. production facility in 2002 as part of an investigation into salmonella contamination in packaged ground beef. In an email to his colleagues shortly after the visit, Zirnstein said he did not “consider the stuff to be ground beef.”
For retired microbiologist Carl Custer, a 35-year veteran of the Food Safety Inspection Service, the idea of mixing in BPI’s Lean Beef Trimmings into more nutritious, pure ground beef was itself problematic.
“We originally called it soylent pink,” Custer told The Daily. “We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”
Both men say the product was approved as safe by the USDA over their objections.
Pink Slime As Part Of Healthier School Lunches?
What is going on with the National School Lunch Program? Just over a month ago, as I wrote here, the USDA unveiled final rules for healthier school lunches and breakfasts, with the help of First Lady Michelle Obama. This after a full year of deliberations on the topic.
In light of these new regulations, pink slime makes no sense, in addition to being dangerous for the health of our nation’s children.
Take Action Now!
If you think this is outrageous, please click here to sign our petition calling on the USDA to do the right thing and extend their new rules to include a ban on the use of “pink slime” beef in school lunches.
Watch this video, and you may never eat a hamburger again:
Photo Credit: screenshot from Fast Food Nation
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