This morning I read in Food Safety News a deeply moving piece by Nancy Donley, a mother who lost a child to E. coli and who is now committed to the cause of food safety. In the piece, Ms. Donley criticizes the Change.org petition I started to remove so-called “pink slime” in school food.
I urge you to take a look at it. Here’s an excerpt:
After what I personally experienced watching my son suffer and die, I am very skeptical and cynical about for-profit meat companies and their professed commitment to food safety. Not all companies “walk their talk.” BPI does.There has been a lot of misinformation swirling around the Internet and on TV about lean beef trim produced by Beef Products, Inc. As I stated earlier, I have personally visited their plant and the categorization of calling their product “pink slime” is completely false and incendiary. Consumers need to understand that this product is meat, period, and that the use of ammonia hydroxide in minute amounts during processing improves the safety of the product and is routinely used throughout the food industry. There are many types of interventions including food-grade antimicrobial sprays which are used on all manner of foods. Some of these things may sound icky and gross, especially when inaccurately portrayed. These interventions are necessary in ridding meat of deadly pathogens and are required to prove they pose no threats to consumers. Companies would be prohibited by the USDA and FDA to use substances that could be harmful in human consumption.I am very concerned that mis-categorization campaigns such as this “pink slime” campaign will cause well-intentioned companies such as BPI to cease innovations for developing better food safety technologies and strategies.
I just sent Ms. Donley this email and hope that she and I will be able to speak:
I’m Bettina Siegel, the person who started the now-infamous pink slime petition. I’m so sorry for your terrible loss (which I already knew of) and I was greatly moved reading your article in Food Safety News this morning in defense of BPI and its product. I would like to speak with you about it further if you’re willing.
As you may have seen from my demand for a correction from NPR two days ago, read partially on the air yesterday, my concern with this product has never been the ammonia hydroxide. What does trouble me is BPI’s use of a raw material which by its very nature is highly pathogenic, such that we all might be endangered in the case of human error (as when BPI’s ammonia system stopped working for sixty seconds in 2009, leading to 26,000+ pounds of infected meat) or a new strain of E coli — not part of BPI’s admirably advanced testing protocol — emerges (as one did in Germany last summer, killing 45 and sickening 3,700+.)
I’d very much like to hear your thoughts and – whether we do eventually speak or not — I’m sharing your views with my readers right now as they are an important part of this discussion.