Pink Slime Watch: 3 Days, 10,000 Signatures!

by Bettina Elias Siegel on March 9, 2012

Regular Lunch Tray readers look to this blog for a diverse mix of kid-and-food news and features, so I apologize for the exclusive focus this week on “pink slime“ in school food.  But I think it’s clear to all of us that something significant might be happening here, and I want to keep you informed:

Signature Count

As of this morning — the start of Day Four of a petition launched on TLT earlier this week — over 10,000 people have signed on to protest the use of pink slime in ground beef destined for school meals.

You’d think a daily blogger like myself would already appreciate the power of social media, but I’m just in awe of this milestone — and grateful to everyone who has lent their support to this petition so far.

Media Coverage of Our Petition

David Knowles’s story in The Daily on Monday (first revealing that USDA is purchasing ground beef for schools containing 7 million pounds of pink slime) set off a firestorm of  media coverage about pink slime generally – there are far too many reports to cite here.  But what’s really exciting is that many major news outlets have specifically mentioned and linked to our Change.org petition, including: Yahoo News, the Washington Post, Food Safety News, MSNBC , CBS News, OC Weekly, Parenting and the Minneapolis Star Tribune

A Good Overview of Pink Slime . . .

Many of you had never heard of pink slime before this week.  If you’re interested, ABC News had an informative segment last night with a good synopsis of what pink slime is and how exactly it’s made.

. . . And How to Steer Clear of It

ABC News also shared some information on which stores are selling ground beef without pink slime.  (One of the real scandals here is that the USDA does not require pink slime to be separately labeled, so consumers have no way of knowing this information by looking at product packaging.)  According to ABC, Publix, Costco, HEB and Whole Foods have confirmed “they don’t use pink slime.”  Other beef purveyors contacted by ABC did not respond to the request for information.

You can also avoid pink slime by purchasing your ground beef from a trusted local source, by grinding your own meat at home, or by asking your butcher to grind meat for you.

Is It Really Fair to Ask USDA to Buy “Slime-Free” Beef for Our Kids?

Someone asked me yesterday if it’s fair to ask USDA to purchase slime-free beef for schools when, as it’s been widely reported, over 70% of the ground meat in this country contains the substance.  And my emailed response was this:

Keep in mind that the pink slime is in 70% of ground beef only because USDA authorized its use.  If the agency revokes that authorization, at least with respect to the meat going to schools, why can’t producers simply resume their past practice of not putting slaughterhouse sweepings into our kids’ food?   Also . . . just think about the volume of ground meat that’s purchased by McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell combined.  Yet somehow their suppliers are managing to produce meat without slime . . . .

And I think that fact was really the tipping point for me, and the reason why I started this, my very first petition of any kind, i.e., that fast food chains (hardly at the forefront on issues of health) decided to keep this substance out of their ground beef.  They did so, presumably, in response to consumer concerns about slime, yet millions of American school kids continue to passively consume this stuff for only one reason: money.  The sale of “Lean Beef Trimmings” has earned Beef Products Inc. “hundreds of millions of dollars” and it shaves three cents a pound off the production of ground beef.  And that’s just not a sufficient reason to feed our kids slaughterhouse scraps which in other countries are allowed only for pet food.

So let’s keep this thing going, TLT’ers!  Sign the petition, share it on social media, and spread the word.

Our kids deserve better.

[For easier copying/pasting, here's the URL for the petition:  http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-usda-to-stop-using-pink-slime-in-school-food .  Please note that when you post the link on Facebook, sometimes the photo of pink chicken goo (which I erroneously attached to the petition on the first day, before correcting my error) still appears.  If that happens, you can choose to delete the thumbnail and avoid perpetuating my mistake.]

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Kidd March 9, 2012 at 6:40 am

I am shocked and disgraced that this country cares so little about the health of their school children.

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Millie Drake March 9, 2012 at 7:49 am

Isn’t it interesting that our “first lady” is so into children’s obesity and nutrition!!!

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P Reis March 9, 2012 at 11:08 am

Millie, that’s such an interesting response. Aside from the disrespect to the First Lady by the way you wrote out her title, it’s indeed her work (and the work of people like Bettina) that’s helped shine a light on practices like this. Michelle Obama did not cause pink slime to be added to our beef. It’s been going on longer than I even like to think about. Why the unfair blame? Let’s just focus on the solution — getting this stuff out of our schools, and out of our food supply in general.

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meps March 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for a wonderful and measured response to an unnecessary and ill-founded criticism.

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Yes, thank you, P. Reis, for that response, and sorry for not being a better moderator these past few days. It’s been a just a little crazy around here. LOL.

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Christine Powers March 9, 2012 at 7:57 am

Thank you for putting a spotlight on this issue. I send my son to school each day with a healthy, homemade lunch, however not all Americans have the means or time to do so. I am disgusted by the people who make these decisions. Somehow they feel it is okay to practically poison other peoples children just for money. You can bet they aren’t serving this @#^&! to their kids!

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Lizette Daid March 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

What is wrong with this Country of ours ? How do we help you Bettina Siegal with petitions and signatures ?

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

Lizette – please circulate the petition as much as possible via Facebook, Twitter, email or other social media. I think that’s the best way to garner more signatures. And thank you for offering to help! Petition is here: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-usda-to-stop-using-pink-slime-in-school-food

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Lora Shepherd March 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

Please help! Our babies may get cancer from this stuff! Sign this petition!

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Nora March 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

I will be tweeting this throughout the week. It’s disgusting and an absolute shame that the USDA would allow our kids to be fed this nastiness.

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jennyjens March 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I don’t know why political parties are brought into these kind of threads.
Here is my take:

The First Lady’s husband smokes for goodness sakes, I certainly won’t be taking any healthy eating habit advice from them!

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Holiday March 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I’m sorry, but how were political “parties” brought into this thread? The post is about USDA, a government department, so obviously the government is not an unrelated topic. Other than yours, I haven’t seen any mention of any political parties. First Lady Michelle Obama is not a political party, she is a woman who is trying to improve the health and wellbeing of our nation.

Not that healthy eating and smoking are at all related to each other, as you infer, but just for your information President Obama does not smoke anymore:
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/02/08/president-obama-kicked-smoking-habit-michelle-says/

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jennyjens March 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm

that last part is really funny!

So this blog is only about eating healthy, gotcha!

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Citizen2 March 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Get this stuff out of our children’s schools

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Citizen2 March 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Get this stuff out of our school lunch program. It it Guts! YUK

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Brittany March 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

This pink slime in school lunches is very disturbing, but it wakes you up and makes you question what is in the food that we are allowing our children to eat! Maybe this will be an eye-opener and parents will start thinking about how important it is to know what is in the food we feed the most precious people-our kids!

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