March 9, 2012, 6:47 pm
Will There Be “Pink Slime” in Your Child’s School Lunch?
By KJ DELL'ANTONIA
“Pink Slime:” it’s tasty (well, probably not), nutritious (oops, not that either) and cheap (got that right) and it’s probably found in a hamburger near you. Most particularly, in the hamburger or cheeseburger that almost certainly graced the lunch menu at your child’s school this month.
“Pink Slime” is the appetizing term for a ground-up amalgam of beef scraps, cow connective tissues, and other beef trimmings, once useful only for dog food and cooking oil, that are treated with ammonia to kill pathogens and then added to stretch the use of “traditional” ground beef (what most people once called simply “ground beef”).
As The Times described in 2009, faced with a glut of fat, connective tissue and other once largely unsaleable remnants, the company’s founder developed a process that turned those slaughterhouse trimmings, which were more prone to contamination with E. coli and salmonella, into desirable (to hamburger-makers) filler by compressing them and exposing them to ammonia gas, killing the pathogens.
The term “pink slime” came from one of two whistle-blowing former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists who are on a crusade against the stuff, and particularly against its unlabeled inclusion in everything from school lunches to, according to ABC News, up to 70 percent of all supermarket ground beef. It’s “not nutritionally equivalent,” Carl S. Custer told The Daily. This is “economic fraud,” Gerald Zirnstein told ABC News. “It’s a cheap substitute.”
This at a time when the lunchbox police see fit to tell us the food we serve our kids does not meet their high standards.