I was traveling to all day yesterday for a media appearance (more on that when I’m allowed to share), which was extremely frustrating because all I wanted to be doing was speaking with school food sources to get their reaction to USDA’s announcement about school choice and pink slime.
Fortunately, though, my online colleague and friend Nancy Huehnergarth of NYSHEPA was diligently on the case. Please read her post from yesterday in which she digs into the practicality (or lack thereof) of USDA’s solution. Here’s an excerpt, quoting Chef Ann Cooper:
. . . Cooper believes that market limitations and peculiarities in how the USDA commodity food system works practically ensure LFTB beef in schools for the foreseeable future. “If a school district wants to purchase ground beef from an approved vendor, without LFTB, it’s practically impossible because it’s just not available – most of the beef contains the low-grade filler,” Cooper says. “Plus, if the school purchases bulk ground beef without pink slime, they still have to send it out to a third party processor like Tyson to be made into hamburgers, meatballs, etc. Currently, the third party vendors do not have to use the actual beef ordered by the school – they could use any beef. So a school could order LFTB-free beef sent to the processor, and it could get back hamburgers and meatballs with the ammonium-hydroxide processed filler.”
I’m also in touch TLT’s Mystery Food Services Director (remember him/her?) and getting additional info which I hope to share here.
What this all means is that USDA has (1) heard our concerns and (2) budged, all of which is enormously significant, but there are clearly details to be sorted out and more work to be done before any school district wishing to go “slime-free” can actually do so in a reliable and affordable manner.
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