I have to admit, I wasn’t up-to-date on pink slimage even though it’s apparently been sweeping the Internet. “Lean finely textured beef”is the extraction of beef remnants and trimmings and is, according to manufacturer Beef Products Inc., a boon to school cafeterias by shaving three cents off the cost to produce a pound of ground beef. The company also claims the process is safer and more nutritious, which critics dispute: the trimmings are most susceptible to pathogens like e. coli, so must be treated with ammonia first.
Responding to reports that the federal government’s purchase of ground beef next year will include 7 million pounds of the byproduct, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) fired off a protest letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today, asking that the agency review the process for approving pink slime and requiring labeling of any product sent to a school containing the mixture.
“The largest concern is clearly the safety of the product itself. The leftover scraps are treated with ammonia because they come from parts of the cow with high exposure to fecal matter,” Menendez wrote. “…In addition, there is little question that American consumers are being misled when they purchase what they believe is 100 percent ground beef. That’s because the filler contains mostly connective tissue and other non-muscle products which are less nutritious than pure beef.”
The senator called on the USDA to end the purchase of pink-slime stuff for public schools.
“At a time when we are encouraging kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, it seems to me that a product dubbed ‘pink slime’ has no place in our children’s school lunches,” Menendez said.