School Children Served Pink Slime for Lunch

School Children Served Pink Slime for Lunch post image

Have you heard of the latest delectable item on the school lunch menu? It’s a product called pink slime. It is made from beef scrapes, beef trim, cow connective tissue and it is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It is then blended into regular ground beef and burger patties. The fast food joints rejected this stuff, but the USDA purchased 7 million pounds of it for the nation’s school lunch program.

I know that the fast food industry buys the cheapest meat they can find — many times it’s from feedlot cows that are dying but still standing — so they can still be used for food. Of course they are using conventional factory cows that are fed GM corn and soy to fatten them up for slaughter.

Is there a bomb in that meat?

These animals are also eating all the herbicides and pesticides used on these GM crops. Additionally, they are full of antibiotics given in their feed for growth enhancement.

I’m not as concerned about the trim and scraps (sometimes that collagenous material can provide good nutrients for the joints) as I am about the hydrogen peroxide wash that is used. Clearly, some of that will be in the meat.

Ammonium hydroxide can be harmful to eat (duh!) and it has the potential to turn into ammonium nitrate, which is a common ingredient in homemade bombs. It is also used in household cleaners and fertilizers. All of these products are very toxic. You would take care not to touch these products with your hands. Would you really want your kids eating them?

In spite of the ammonia there are still plenty of pathogens

In 2009, The New York Times reported that despite the added ammonia, testing of lean beef trimmings in schools across the country revealed dozens of instances of E. coli and salmonella pathogens.

Between 2005 and 2009, E. coli was found three times and salmonella 48 times, according to the New York Times, including two contaminated batches of 27,000 pounds of meat.

Soylent pink or lean beef trimmings?

The manufacturer of this scrap-trim-ammonia concoction, Beef Products Inc., calls it lean beef trimmings. Semantics can certainly hide this concoction that is normally used for dog food. Would you give your dog ammonia soaked lean beef trimmings?

Retired microbiologist Carl Custer, a 35-year veteran of the Food Safety Inspection Service said,

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.

Back in the late 1990’s Custer and other microbiologists voiced concerns about soylent pink, but the USDA ruled that Lean Beef Trimmings were safe. At the time, the under secretary was JoAnn Smith, who had deep ties with the beef industry, serving as president of both the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the of the National Cattlemen’s Association.

Pink Slime is not labeled

Gerald Zirnstein, another retired microbiologist, 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. He said,

Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval.

Additionally, there is no way of knowing if the pink slime is in a package of ground beef or burger patties because of relaxed labeling requirements. In 2005, the USDA limited the amount of ammonia-treated Lean Beef Trimmings in a serving of ground beef to 15 percent, but your guess is as good as mine if this is being followed.

Amy Bell, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education Food Distribution Program said,

The USDA-AMS [Agricultural Marketing Service] does allow for the inclusion of BPI Boneless Lean Beef [another lesson in semantics] in the ground beef they procure for all their federal food programs and, according to federal labeling requirements, it is not a raw material that is uniquely labeled.

Consumers may not be able to tell which products include this, because the USDA considers it a component in a production procedure — separating scrap meat — and not an ingredient that must be listed on food labels.

Zirnstein said,

They’ve taken a processed product, without labeling it, and added it to raw ground beef… Science is the truth, and pink slime at this point in time is a fraudulent lie.

A perfect storm in our food supply

Once again we have the perfect storm of laxity and greed:

  • Legislators tied to the industries they are supposed to monitor
  • Food industry companies buying the cheapest raw materials and processing them with questionable additives in order to make them somewhat palatable.
  • The USDA, our government in action, providing the nations next generation, our children, with the absolute worst garbage they call food, in order to fulfill their commitment to provide school lunches.
  • Poor labeling laws that allow processing chemicals and additives to be hidden in food. Somewhat reminiscent of GM ingredients going unlabeled in food.

This is simply another good reason for your children to BRING THEIR OWN LUNCH FROM HOME.

A blogger created a petition that is being sent to the USDA food secretary. Please click here to sign the petition.

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Leave a Comment

  • pat winter March 7, 2012, 9:41 pm

    School lunches are not the only place this crap goes. Nursing.and retirement homes too. And don’t forget prisons. I have to wonder why our seniors deserve this and if recidivism souldnt be reduced with proper nutrition!

  • Christina March 7, 2012, 10:00 pm

    This is the most disturbing thing I have read since discovering that many governments ban citizens from collecting rainwater for use at home citing reasons of diversion of government-owned water. They don’t serve this in hospitals do they? Maybe I don’t even want to know.

  • Judy@Savoring Today March 8, 2012, 8:22 am

    Shouldn’t have read this before breakfast. When will the madness stop? People have got to wake up to what they are eating.

  • elaine March 8, 2012, 8:40 am

    they should put this stuff on the menu for lunch at the white house and congress/senate……see how they like it. its criminal what they feed to our school children, really is.

  • Beth March 8, 2012, 10:38 am

    Excellent post; thanks.

  • Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) March 8, 2012, 11:05 am

    Whew. Wrong post to read during breakfast. Thankfully, it’s oatmeal, not meat. 🙂 While I don’t think people should be paranoid, we do need to think about our food. I mean, if schools are this desperate to save money, I vote for serving more beans and rice. Not the same taste as a cheeseburger, but maybe people can get used to it. We got used to nasty burgers.

  • Bebe March 9, 2012, 2:53 pm

    Connective tissue and other trimmings are actually excellent sources of nutrients but the chemicals… now that is despicable. So amazing how the same government that has deemed milk in its natural (raw) state to be a danger to humans also sees fit to reinforce the production and distribution of absolute crap and poison… to those who have little voice in the matter.

  • Hanna March 9, 2012, 9:41 pm

    glad i live in a country where i have to send my kids to school with food (Australia doesnt have school lunches)

  • Heather March 12, 2012, 6:10 am

    This is so disgusting! I think I first heard about this on Food Inc., I was grossed out then, but now to think that they are putting it in school lunches?! I recently read here in the comments that the US school lunch program was started as a way to use up the food surplus, or what was not able to be sold…so maybe the reason the USDA bought it was because fast food decided not to…

  • Jill March 12, 2012, 6:16 am

    Hi Heather,
    I guess anything is possible when it comes to the crap they put in school lunches.

  • Braver Jill March 12, 2012, 11:28 am

    I work in a public school district in a major city. I don’t know if our district will be purchasing “meat” from this supply.

    What breaks my heart is that it’s not so easy to, as this post says, “make sure your children bring a lunch from home”. My district is in a large urban city. 80% of our total student body is poor/low income enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch. This means that about 80% of our school families cannot afford to send lunch with their kids. About 60% of these children also get a government funded breakfast, too, because of the poverty of their family.

    Children need to eat regulary in order to learn. That’s a fact.

    But the ones that can’t afford a homemade healthy lunch get stuck eating ammonia coated slime. It’s a shameful, heartbreaking situation that further divides the “haves” from the “have nots”.

    • Jill March 12, 2012, 9:03 pm

      Hi Braver Jill,
      In situations like you describe it is all the more disturbing that the school lunch (and breakfast) program is so devalued.

  • 'Becca March 13, 2012, 11:41 am

    This is one of many reasons that my son brings his lunch to school! We also do not allow him to eat ground meat of any kind because, even if it is free of pink slime, there is a higher risk of food poisoning in ground meat because of the greater surface area and the large number of animals mixed in one batch. (We did make an exception recently when a friend bought turkey directly from a local organic farm and ground it herself right before cooking–much safer.)

    I agree with Braver Jill that protecting our own children is not enough. No child in our society deserves to be fed this disgusting goo!!! Nor do they deserve two meals a day served on foam trays that leach endocrine disruptors into their food and pollute their world forever! I support all efforts to improve school lunches.

  • Kenedi - Real Food Whole Life March 14, 2012, 9:26 am

    I posted on my blog yesterday about a pink slime petition. Please pop over for more information and to sign the petition. We need to use our voice whenever given the opportunity and speak up for those who do not have a voice (our children) or those who do not even know. It’s currently at 218,700!

    • Jill March 14, 2012, 11:11 am

      Hi Kenedi,
      Great! I will provide a link on the post!

  • Brandy March 14, 2012, 11:45 pm

    I had just heard of pink slime, but I didn’t know what it was. Now I do. Thank you for an informative article.

    Since we homeschool, my children eat lunch at home every day. I know what they are eating–be it beans, soup, or lettuce from the garden.

    • Afnan December 18, 2012, 4:41 pm

      I have a Ninja master Pro and I would not use it for gnirding meat. I have know some who use an actual meat grinder while living out of the country and that seems to be a really good solution. Best solution in my opinion as long as your in the US, and it’s what I do, go to the supermarket and ask the butcher to do whatever it is you want with a cut of meat. They always do it for me and I’ve never had any problems.

  • Jen March 16, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Just read that USDA are now going to offer a range of products in a response to the outcry. I wonder what the alternative is???? So glad my children go to school with a pack lunch everyday

  • Sonja @ March 22, 2012, 2:35 am

    We need to get this message out there! I just forwarded it. Thanks for posting!!

  • alyssa August 16, 2012, 11:21 am

    they said they sold the same thing at mcdonalds chicken nuggets and showed the exact same picture and it was a lie so what makes you think this isnt a lie too

  • Summer November 1, 2012, 12:56 am

    Isn’t blood a connective tissue? Some people are talking about connective tissues not being a bad source of nutrients, but the types and ratios of connective tissues are not discussed. I know many people don’t object to consuming blood or other nasty bits, but it’s against some religions (mine). People know to ask what kind of meat the food is, but I doubt many people venture to ask what CUT is in their burger.

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