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:
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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