Pink slime is a low-cost product that is rendered from the fatty outside trim of the cow, combined with connective tissue and cartilage, heated up to remove most of the fat, then treated with ammonia to kill E. coli. It is a very scary product that no child – or adult, for that matter – should be expected to eat. Even many fast food chains like have stopped using it. Microbiologists have called pink slime a “high risk” product.
The USDA was set to purchase 7 million pounds of ground beef containing pink slime for use in public school lunches. In response, Bettina Siegel, a Houston mother of two, started an online petition through the website Change.org protesting the use of pink slime in schools. The petition garnered a quarter of a million signatures. In turn, the USDA decided to let schools make the call. In other words, they’re passing the buck. (Sign here to tell USDA that NO pink slime should be in schools!)
On one hand, the USDA’s change of heart is a success story. It demonstrates the power of public outcry. By making their voices heard, everyday people truly can affect real change.
On the other hand, however, the USDA’s decision constitutes a failure. The fact that the USDA was even considering feeding pink slime to our children demonstrates that it is not adequately concerned with the health of the very people it is supposed to protect. And while giving schools the option is a step in the right direction, it is really more of band-aid fix intended to cast the USDA in a more favorable light. As anyone who has watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution knows, many schools are likely to opt for the cheaper option. If the USDA really cares about protecting our nation’s children, it will ban pink slime all together.
This decision is another in the long line of decisions made by both the USDA and the FDA that demonstrate those organizations’ unwillingness to do what it takes to ensure the safety of our nation’s food supply. They allow animals raised for food to be kept in such close quarters and fed such inappropriate food that they become sick without antibiotics. They allow those same animals to be injected with hormones. They allow our crops to be sprayed with dangerous pesticides, and they do not require the labeling of genetically modified foods.
Part of the problem, of course, is that executives from companies like Monsanto are routinely given government appointments. This is a practice that can no longer be tolerated. The FDA and the USDA need to become more proactive when it comes to making decisions that are truly in the best interest of the American people.