How’s this for taking care of our kids? McDonald’s refuses to put a dubious meat by product into its burgers, but the government orders 7 million pounds of “Pink Slime” for its school lunch program.
The pink slime is a mix of fat trimmings and ammonia-hydroxide that is added to ground beef to fatten it up, and make it cheaper. It’s manufacturer is Beef Products Incorporated (BPI), which claimed in 2010 that its product could be found in 70% of the ground beef in America! From BPI’s web site:
Beef Products, Inc. is the world’s leading producer of lean beef processed from fresh beef trimmings… Our lean beef is an important part of many common foods; from fresh retail ground beef, to foodservice beef patties, hamburgers, cooked meats, and processed luncheon meats to name a few. BPI’s lean beef is a part of nearly 20 billion meals per year, with an unsurpassed food safety record, adding over $250 Million in value to the U.S. beef industry annually… We use a natural compound – called ammonium hydroxide, which is widely used in the processing of numerous foods, such as baked goods, cheeses, gelatins, chocolate, caramels, and puddings – to slightly increase the pH level in beef and improve its safety.
What you need to know:
OK, so these guys figured out a way to take unused scraps of meat and connective tissue and turn it into a profitable business. They should be commended, not chastised right?
WRONG! Turns out these scraps, in the past relegated to pet food, have a high tendency for contamination with e-coli and salmonella. Ammonium Hydroxide – ammonium in water – is an ingredient in many household cleaning products. It kills bacteria. The FDA considers it safe.
So what’s the problem?
Despite the use of ammonium hydroxide to bath the meat scraps, outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella continue. Which means BPI’s manufacturing method is not at all safe. USDA scientists warned about this, but their voice was muted by then Undersecretary of the USDA, JoAnn Smith.
Guess where Mrs. Smith ended up working (as a board member) after leaving the USDA?
That’s right, non other than BPI!
Bettina Siegel, Houston food activist and blogger for the Lunch Tray, has started an online petition to tell the USDA to stop using pink slime in school food. Over 10,000 people have signed so far in just 3 days. Please take moment to the Uncle Sam to leave pink slime out of our kids’ food.
What to do at the supermarket:
For those of us who read food labels, there is no way to know if BPI products are in your ground beef. There is no labeling requirement. If you want to be sure no pink slime is in your ground beef, buy whole cuts an have them ground in front you.