Monday, April 9, 2012

Pink Slime….The Cow is Out of The Bag

Even as the National School Lunch Program rifles through students’ bagged lunches to make certain that what their parents packed for lunch is “approved”….new information shows what is being quietly served on your child’s school lunch tray

PINK SLIME.  The name sounds as bad as it is.  And.. chances are you’ve unknowingly consumed it hundreds of times since it was quietly added to our food supply over 10 years ago. 

McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and many grocery stores have vowed to stop using it (now that the cow is out of the bag).  But….unbelievably, The USDA will continue buying pink slime containing ground beef products to be served to our children as part of the “National School Lunch Program.” 


Let’s talk about pink slime, shall we?

Pink slime is listed on ground beef labels as “lean finely textured beef.”  (That actually sounds healthy, doesn’t it?).  What is it?  An ammonia treated burger extender made from fatty left over meat trimmings, beef scraps, cow connective tissues…the parts of beef that were once used in dog food and cooking fat. 

The process involves heating the scraps to about 100 degrees F and spinning them to remove most of the fat.  What’s left is connective tissue and assorted as sundry none- fat scraps.  The slimy product is sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, formed into blocks or chips, and frozen.  See, it turns out that the waste products are more highly apt to contain E.Coli and Salmonella so that handy spray of ammonia helps kill the bacteria.  Does ammonia show up on the label for this meat product?  No, the FDA allows the ammonia to be labeled as an undisclosed “processing agent.”  What a tangled web we weave……

It is estimated that at least 50% of our ground beef supply contains pink slime.

This year, the USDA has contracted to buy 111.5 MILLION pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program.  About 7 MILLION pounds of “lean finely textured beef” will be among those pounds.  And, even though fast food restaurants and grocery stores won’t be using the product, the USDA will give the School Lunch Program the option to use the pink slime burgers or purchase non-pink slime containing burgers. 

Why would a school choose the pink slime burgers?  They are less expensive and cost saving, of course!  The idea that school children are being served this beef “product” without their parent’s knowledge but with the full consent of the USDA and National School Lunch Program is beyond me.

Despite the ammonia spraying, E.Coli and Salmonella are still found in the “lean finely textured beef.”  Hence, outbreaks of E.coli that have still caused recalls of tons of beef in the past 10 years.  And the strains of E.coli are more deadly than ever:

Why is E.Coli such a concern these days?  I don’t remember hearing about it years ago.  Well, the answer lies in the very large demand for beef.  E.Coli originates from the digestive tracts of cattle.  Cattle are meant to be fed grass..but due to demand, farms skip the grazing and feed the cattle a daily intake of antibiotic treated grain.  Grain is not the appropriate food for cattle.  The manure produced by the cattle ends up seeping into the ground and water supply.  (That’s how mass E.coli happens regarding vegetables).  Healthy animals are fed so many antibiotics that E.Coli and salmonella are developing resistance to them.

The FDA must make a ruling on a lawsuit brought last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council to decide if routinely feeding healthy farm animals antibiotics constitutes a threat to humans.  It’s a bet that the very strong meat and drug industries will put the pressure on the FDA to keep antibiotic dosing in effect.
So…The process of heating and spinning the left over trimming, connective tissue, etc to form a low fat paste that could be sprayed with ammonia to kill its higher than typical E.Coli content could “extend” burger making it cheaper for fast food industries and groceries and the USDA to purchase for the National School Lunch program.  All this done without the public’s knowledge.  And now, when even fast food and grocers are willing to say “no more”…the USDA continues to say YES to pink slime for our kids.