Government buys 7 million pounds of ‘pink slime’ for school lunches
posted at 11:09 am on March 7, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
If you need further evidence that the federal government should stay out of the school lunch business, it comes in a report from The Daily noting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has just contracted to buy 7 million pounds of “pink slime” for its school lunch program.
The term pink slime was coined by microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein. It refers to a ground-up blend of beef scraps, connective tissue, and other trimmings that has been treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. The resulting product has a shocking pink appearance and a mouth feel described as more like Jell-O than hamburger. (For a more in-depth look at how pink slime is made, check out this segment from celebrity-chef-turned-buddinsky Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, though suffice it to say the stuff is so gross that McDonald’s and Burger King swore off using it in January.)
Marketed under the name ”Lean Beef Trimmings” by its manufacturer, Beef Products Inc., pink slime has raised health concerns as well as aesthetic ones. Carl Custer, a microbiologist who worked for the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service for 35 years, is on record as saying:
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.
And that’s only the half of it. Custer warns that ingesting ammonium hydroxide, an ingredient in household cleaners and fertilizers, can be harmful. To make matters worse, the chemical doesn’t invariably do the job it’s intended to do. The New York Times reported in 2009 that since 2005, E. coli was found three times and salmonella 48 in industrial-size batches of the product.
Word of the USDA’s plan to purchase 7 million pounds (that’s 3,500 tons) of pink slime comes on the heels of the government’s release of its new guidelines for more healthful school lunches. First Lady Michelle Obama announced the new standards along with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on January 29, proclaiming:
When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home.
She’s right. Pink slime is available only for institutional sale. Kids will not be eating it at home.
As for the purchase, maybe it exemplifies what the president means when he talks about “investing in our children’s future.”
- School quickly edits lunch menu offering of ‘KKK chicken tenders’
- It’s what’s for dinner—if you are de facto WH food czar
- School refuses to allow preschooler to eat ‘non-nutritious’ lunch from home
- Anti-meat group to Heart Attack Grill: ‘Shut it down’
- Customer has heart attack while eating aptly named Triple Bypass Burger
- LA school district lunch program spawns thriving junk food black market
- Michelle Obama’s MyPlate food guide a spectacular failure
- TX schools to install cafeteria “cams” to monitor student food choices
- Study suggests “food stamps” contribute to childhood obesity
- First Lady: Childhood obesity is a “national security threat”
- Is more government intervention the answer to the problem of childhood obesity?
- Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales
- Government wants to ban potatoes from school lunches
Recently in the Green Room:
- Two House Dems demand Lerner resignation after using lobbyist to stage modified limited hangout
- Feelgood video of the day
- New liberal idea: Let’s raise $660 million online in a month to buy the LA Times before the Koch brothers can
- Of Course It Troubles Me. Are You Kidding Me?
- Friendly reminder from the White House about ObamaCare: “It’s. The. Law.”