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Stand Up Against the Pink Slime Scam

March 15, 2012

If McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King all rejected it, you know it can’t be good.

Only a few weeks after the government announced new guidelines to improve the nutritional value of school lunches, the U.S. is buzzing with some startling information. American parents are in a frenzy over the news that, in addition to offering more fruits and veggies, cafeterias will also be serving a decidedly less healthful option: pink slime.

Last week, The Daily reported that the USDA plans to purchase 7 million pounds of the controversial meat filler from Beef Products Inc. for use in America’s school lunch program.

Once only used for dog food, this substance – officially termed “lean beef trimmings” but better known as “pink slime” – is a ground-up combination of beef scraps and connective tissue that is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens. In spite of this sterilization process, a 2009 New York Times investigation discovered dozens of instances of E. coli and salmonella pathogens in pink slime samples from across the country.

Despite concerns over its safety, pink slime has become a mainstay in American burgers since it was reportedly approved for consumption by former Secretary of Agriculture Joann Smith. (Smith stepped down in 1993 and joined Beef Product Inc.’s Board of Directors, and it is reported that she has since earned at least $1.2 million in this position.) According to some estimates, pink slime is now in up to 70% of supermarket beef without any indication on the label.

Public outcry against pink slime, led by celebrity chef and healthy school lunch advocate Jamie Oliver, prompted McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King to announce just this January that they would no longer use the filler. Rejected by fast food joints, but acceptable for our children? This only fuels the outrage against the USDA’s plans to purchase tons of pink slime for American cafeterias.

So, what can you do? Take a stand and sign this petition urging the USDA to stop using pink slime in school food. Started by food columnist and mother of two Bettina Siegel, the petition already has over 200,000 signatures!