Would you like any pink slime in your hamburger, sir? I wouldn’t think so.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture is allowing this suspicious substance into the packaged ground beef being served in school lunches across America, according to a recent article from The Daily.
Two former microbiologists for the Food Safety Inspection Service, Carl Custer and Gerald Zirnstein, believe they have reason to be concerned about this “pink slime.” Zirnstein discovered the pink matter in 2002 while touring a Beef Products Inc. production facility as part of a ground beef salmonella investigation.
So what is exactly is the stuff? BPI’s ‘Lean Beef Trimmings’ reportedly consist of connective tissue and beef scraps that are normally produced for dog food and rendering and are treated with ammonia hydroxide to kill pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli.
The resulting pinkish substance is later blended into traditional ground beef and hamburger patties and served in places like school cafeterias. The USDA reported that last year, 6.5 percent of the beef it purchased for the national school lunch program came from BPI.
As a concerned parent, Zirnstein said, “I have a 2-year-old son, and you better believe I don’t want him eating pink slime when he starts going to school.”
But USDA officials claim no fault in the matter, noting that the sole role of the food inspection service is to determine the overall safety of the nation’s food supply, not to make judgments on a product’s relative merits.
Even though Zirnstein and Custer say trimmings are not, in fact, meat and even diagnosed them as a “high risk product” after conducting a baseline study, the food inspection service has apparently ignored their reports.
But recent developments may have the USDA more concerned about the product they’re purchasing since fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell have dropped it from their lines.
If it’s not good enough for Taco Bell, is it good enough for school lunches? It may be up to parents to decide.
March 7th, 2012