Moral Low Ground


USDA to Buy 7 Million More Pounds of Ammonia-Treated ‘Pink Slime’ “Beef” Rejected by McDonald’s for Federal School Lunch Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase an additional 7 million pounds of ammonia-treated beef byproduct, the so-called ‘pink slime’ rejected by fast-food companies like McDonalds, to feed to our nation’s school children.


According to The Daily, the USDA plans to buy the “lean beef trimmings”– a euphemistic name that refers to a concoction of connective tissue and scraps usually reserved for dog food and rendering– from Beef Products Inc. (BPI), a South Dakota-based company. The name ‘pink slime,’ coined by microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, refers to the color of the product after it’s been treated with ammonia hydroxide in order to kill pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella.

Other questionable chemical additives in ‘pink slime’ include  propylene glycol, a substance similar to that found in antifreeze, ammonia sulfate, the bleaching agent azodicarbonamide and the buffering agent sodium acid  pyrophosphate.

The product gained national notoriety due to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution TV program, on which the host attempts to reform school lunch programs to reduce childhood obesity.

‘Pink slime’ recently made headlines when fast-food companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell stopped using it in their food. But apparently the government believes the stuff is just fine to serve to millions of American school children.

How did the questionable product come to be served to so many of our children? According to The Daily, JoAnn Smith, the former undersecretary of agriculture appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, is accused of pushing the product. Before being appointed to her government position, Smith was the president of both the Florida and National Cattlemen’s Associations. The government’s approval of pink slime led to a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars for BPI.

Moreover, after stepping down from her government job in 1993, Smith was appointed to BPI’s board of directors, where she was paid at least $1.2 million over the following years.

“Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein claims.

“They’ve taken a processed product, without labeling it, and added it to raw ground beef,” the scientist told The Daily. “Science is the truth, and pink slime at this point in time is a fraudulent lie.”

“I have a 2-year-old son,” he added. “And you better believe I don’t want him eating pink slime when he starts going to school.”

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  1. BeverlyMarch 6, 2012 at 12:39 pmReply

    OMG, I have never been so grossed out by any other food story. This one takes the cake and I’m finding it hard to believe the USDA would be so irresponsible and totally uncaring of the children of our nation. Maybe we better charge them with child abuse over this!

  2. Wakako UritaniMarch 6, 2012 at 3:06 pmReply

    I thought it was a photo of froyo!

  3. lindarieMarch 16, 2012 at 10:27 amReply

    As long as I have been eating hamburger I will never eat it again. What are you people thinking. You will do anything to make a buck off of the tax payers (us) to put more dollars in your pocket. This just plain grossed me out…

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