New concerns about “pink slime”

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The oh-so-appetizing “pink slime” oozed into the spotlight last month after fast-food chains announced that they were dropping the beef additive from its burgers.  The american public no longer has to worry about ingesting the ground up beef scraps and connective tissue that have been treated with ammonium hydroxide when reaching for their Big Mac.  Now it’s back in the headlines because the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to promote their satisfaction with the product, claiming that it is safe enough to consume and making quite the statement with the plans they have for it in the coming months.

Recently, the USDA has made arrangements to buy 7 million pounds of ground beef containing the additive.  Where are these 7 million pounds of beef going?  Right into the National School Lunch Program.  It seems like the USDA is a step behind the the fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell who recognize the product as a public relations disaster.  Today they still report that all of their products, including those containing the controversial product, “meet the highest standard for food safety.”

Other parties involved are less convinced.  Gerald Zirnstein, former microbiologist for the Food Safety Inspection Service has a young child himself and it less than thrilled with the idea of his son consuming the “safe” slime in school lunches.  He and his colleague, Carl Custard, a retired microbiologist from the Food Inspection Service, both had uneasy feelings about the product.  Custer told The Daily: 

“We originally called it soylent pink. 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…It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger, plus it’s treated with ammonia, an additive that is not declared anywhere.”

Custer and Zirnstein have been outspoken about the continued manufacturing and selling of “pink slime” and now many others have joined in the fit for slime free meat.  A petition is being circulated titled “Tell USDA to STOP Using Pink Slime in School Food.”  It was initiated by a Texas mom, Bettina Siegal, and to date has received over 20,000 signatures.  In the petition you can sense a maternal concern when Siegal adds,  “Even apart from safety concerns, it is simply wrong to feed our children connective tissues and beef scraps that were, in the past, destined for use in pet food and rendering and were not considered fit for human consumption.”  Hopefully one day the USDA will look for healthier alternatives for their products instead of simply considering the bottom line.

If you are interested in the fight against “pink slime” consider signing the petition at:


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