Congresswoman Pingree Champions Complete Ban on Pink Slime in USDA School Beef

As you know, our petition to get pink slime out of the beef provided by USDA for school meals led to a USDA change in policy within a mere nine days.  For the first time, USDA is offering schools a choice of pre-made patties which contain Lean Beef Trimmings, and bulk beef without it.

That was an extraordinary result and showed dramatically the power of grassroots organizing.  However, in her excellent reporting on this issue, NYSHEPA’s Nancy Huehnergarth explains why this “choice” may be meaningless for many districts, especially the most cash-strapped.

That’s why I am so pleased to report that Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine is now circulating a “sign-on” letter in Congress which takes USDA to task for its rather hollow “solution” and urges a complete ban on the purchasing of LBT beef for use in school food.   Here’s the text of her letter:

Dear Colleague:

By now you have seen and heard about the outcry from parents and students around the country to ban ‘finely textured lean beef trimmings’ or more commonly ‘pink slime’ from school lunches.

The USDA recently announced that they would allow school districts to ‘opt out’ of purchasing beef containing pink slime. This move will create a two-tier school lunch program, forcing less affluent school districts to purchase the less expensive, pink slime beef.

Please join me in urging Secretary Vilsack to end the purchasing of pink slime for school food. If you have any questions, or would like to sign on, please contact Claire Benjamin ( or 5-6116).


Chellie Pingree
Member of Congress

THANK YOU, Rep. Pingree for this effort.

I will keep you posted here on the progress of the sign-on letter.


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  1. Iconoclast says

    If I may play devil’s advocate, I note that “pink slime” actually seems to have not only a superior nutritional profile to regular beef, but also a better safety record.

    It is always a concern to me when populist politics and warm fuzzy feelings are allowed to overshadow hard facts and scientific evidence. Is our bourgeois self-righteous pride worth further exposing disadvantaged schools to financial strain and disadvantaged children to worse nutrition and harmful pathogens?

    – Medical doctor from Australia, not sponsored by any educational institution or meat industry

    • George from UC says

      It seems to have a superior nutritional profile to regular beef because fat is replaced by “lean” cartilage and other connective tissue. It has a better safety record because “ammonia is considered a high health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Exposure to 300 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health” says OSHA and the CDC, so bacteria are destroyed, but at what cost?
      And from the NY Times: In early 2003, officials in Georgia returned nearly 7,000 pounds to Beef Products after cooks who were making meatloaf for state prisoners detected a “very strong odor of ammonia” in 60-pound blocks of the trimmings, state records show.
      “It was frozen, but you could still smell ammonia,” said Dr. Charles Tant, a Georgia agriculture department official. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
      Unaware that the meat was treated with ammonia — since it was not on the label — Georgia officials assumed it was accidentally contaminated and alerted the agriculture department. In their complaint, the officials noted that the level of ammonia in the beef was similar to levels found in contamination incidents involving chicken and milk that had sickened schoolchildren.

  2. Eloise says

    Thank you for doing this if I could I would sign your petition pinkslime is something They are testing on humans its just horrifying.


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