Pink slime made headlines again recently when a few schools in Seattle announced that they wouldn’t be serving it to children during lunch time. This was great news for parents, who were worried after the US Department of Agriculture announced last week that it’s buying the harmful food item in huge quantities for high school children. Pink slime is a harsh term, coined by Dr. Gerald Zirnstein, for boneless lean beef trimmings or similar products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture told The Daily that it's buying 7 million more pounds of the slime for school lunch programs across the country. "All USDA ground beef purchases for the National School Lunch Program must meet the highest standards for food safety," the USDA said in a statement to The Daily. "This includes stringent pathogen testing and compliance with all applicable food safety regulations. USDA would only allow products into commerce or especially into schools that we have confidence are safe."
Despite the news, a few Seattle Public Schools decided to boycott the slime. Teresa Wippel, the official spokesperson for the Seattle Public Schools, said their lunchrooms were pink-slime-free.
Nathan Olson, spokesman for the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said none of the state's public schools should be serving meals made with that meat, technically known as "lean finely textured beef."
"As I understand it, the provider that provides the beef for the state of Washington does not have that kind of beef," Olson said.
It should be noted that more than 200,000 people have signed an online petition to have pink slime banned from all school lunches.
On one hand, a few schools have realized that pink slime consists of beef by-products - cow intestines, connective tissue and other parts that are not used in traditional beef cuts -, on the other, this product will still be used at many other places, including schools and the most worrisome thing is that manufacturers aren't required to label it. A recent ABC report says that the slime is present in 70 percent of supermarket ground beef.
Food Safety News says, “Beef trim is notorious for carrying pathogenic bacteria - especially, E. coli O157:H7 and its close cousins, the non-O157 STEC bacteria however it’s safe to eat treated Pink Slime." It further says, "Ammonium hydroxide has been used as an antimicrobial agent in meat for more than 40 years," concluding that the "slime" has an image problem but is safe to eat.