It’s barely been a month since public pressure generated by food awareness groups and the popularity of documentaries like Food Inc. and Supersize Me put “pink slime” on the no-no list for fast food chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell. In case you’ve (intentionally) forgotten what pink slime is, it’s composed of spare beef trimmings that have been treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill all of the harmful pathogens (how it turns Pepto pink is still unclear). The slime is then mixed with regular beef to form “ground beef” and until a few weeks ago was a main ingredient in shady burgers in fast food chains across the country.
Since the slime — which is technically named the only slightly less gross term “Lean Beef Trimmings” — is approved by the FDA, it makes a sad kind of sense that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered 7 million pounds of the stuff for school lunches. What doesn’t make as much sense is that this purchase comes just a few weeks after the government introduced new guidelines assuring that students are given healthier options for in-school meals. How could this happen?
Microbiologists say that “pink slime” was hastily approved “with minimal safety approval” under George H.W. Bush’s administration (so many of us had it in our school lunches back in the day). That minimal safety includes the poor track record of ammonia, which is harmful itself, at actually cleansing the beef trimmings; between 2005 and 2009, E. coli was in “pink slime” school lunches three times and salmonella 48 times.
It might be a good idea to figure out a way to pack lunch for your kids from now on. Just an idea.
Read more at Huffington Post.