Tuesday, March 20, 2012

pink slime clarified

ground beef | photo: Rainer Zenz
One reader contacted me asking, "What cafeteria food is made with this pink slime stuff?  I've never heard about this and [my son] is now eating in the cafeteria at public school.  He took his lunch every day for four years but not this year.  I was just worried about the nutritional value of what he was eating but now, this is creepy."

The quick answer to your question is any hamburger product is potentially made with pink slime.  The industry term is actually "lean finely textured beef."  It is a meat-product made from scraps and trimmings, heated, de-fatted, and treated with ammonium hydroxide.

Current federal regulations say it does not need to be listed as an ingredient and reports suggest that it can be the basis for as much as 50-70 percent of "hamburger" meat.  Although many fast food restaurants are backing away from it in response to consumer disgust, the industry still wants to sell it because it is cheap and profitable.  The USDA has just approved it for school lunches.

News reports indicate that in response to growing outrage by consumers, schools will be allowed to opt out of receiving this product.  Not, however, until next Fall and not until after currently signed contracts have been fulfilled.  I assume there will be schools which will claim they didn't hear from enough families so they signed contracts and it will continue to be available in the school food for some time to come.

There is a petition being sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (started by Houston resident Bettina Elias Siegel who runs the blog The Lunch Tray) urging a ban of pink slime in schools.  Although I no longer have children in the public school system I am furious that my tax dollars are being spent to feed garbage to children and I have signed.

Current research shows that this product is also in grocery stores.  However, once again, because it is not required to be labeled you may not know.  As of today, March 20, 2012, the most recent list I have been able to find indicates the following:

Pink Slime NOT In Grocery Store:

Costco, Whole Foods, HEB, Ingles, and Publix

Pink Slime ALLOWED In Grocery Store:

Safeway, Stop&Shop, Kroger, Giant, Frys (I'm going to assume this includes Randalls since they are owned by Safeway)

Stores Not Responding About Pink Slime:

Walmart, Food Mart, Fred Meyer  (I'm going to assume this includes Sam's Club since they are owned by Walmart)

If your store is on the list for allowing or not responding the ONLY way to avoid purchasing this product is to purchase organic ground beef as it is, to the best of my knowledge, fillers are not allowed under the rules of organic production.


Helen said...

My son and I both signed the petition. He hopes that something similar is not in the cafeteria chicken! I just looked up a tutorial to learn how to grind my own hamburger meat. Thanks, Mira, for the eye-opener.


Trudy Scott, Food Mood Expert and Nutritionist said...

Quite horrifying I agree! And again what we eat all goes back to quality so buying organic and grass-fed when it comes to meat is key. We need to demand this for our schools!
PS thanks for sharing store info too

Julie Matthews said...

I'm glad this issue is concerning to parents, it certainly is to me. Once school lunches allowed french fries and ketchup to be vegetables, they lost credibility in my book. I certainly wouldn't let my child eat a school lunch. Knowing your source of food is the best solution - and go with 100% grass-fed beef.

Karen Langston said...

It is so disheartening that we as consumers can't take an ingredient at face value. I wonder how long the company spent coming up with this marketing term "lean finely textured beef" so that it would not raise alarm bells?
I have been in meat packing facilities and I have seen these scrapings ect oozing out of a machine and half in a box waiting shipping to the next facility to be turned into pink slime!
And as much as we think we need to turn to 100% grass fed beef; even this has been skewed... we now have to ask whether the beef was finished 100% grass!
It is amazing that we have to stay on top of all the ingredients listed and then investigate them as to what they really mean.. why can't we just have quality food period?
Thanks for sharing this Mira it is such an eye opener!

Jeff Wise said...

That pink slime stuff is disgusting and it's all about profit.

Let's all educate ourselves and tell everyone we know.

Let's keep our families healthy.