“Pink slime” is officially the Whac-a-Mole of the food industry right now. When fast food franchises like McDonald’s and Taco Bell vowed to stop using ammonium hydroxide-treated meat trimmings in its ground beef, it seemed like the worst was over. Then, word got out that the USDA has designs to purchase 7 million pounds’ worth of ammonia-treated beef from Beef Products Inc. for use in its National School Lunch Program. That news especially rubbed food columnist Bettina Siegal the wrong way, prompting her to fight it with an online petition calling for the USDA to stop using pink slime in school food.
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Bettina Siegal, a former litigation attorney and current columnist and author of blog The Lunch Tray, launched the petition on Tuesday at the tail end of a blog post. In said post, Siegal outlined her disappointment in the USDA’s choice to continue using ammonia-treated meat products, particularly after prior statements implying higher standards for meat used in the National School Lunch Program:
When I wrote my post on pink slime in 2010, I cited a USDA press release and statements from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack which indicated (or so I thought) that pink slime would no longer be used in school food. I wrote:
“. . . .last week Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced tougher new standards for the ground beef that will be used in the National School Lunch Program, among other federal food programs. . . . . Among the new standards are more stringent testing for E. coli and other bacteria as well as a planned review of the beef purchasing system by the National Academy of Sciences.”
Siegal followed up with facts on doubts over the treatment’s safety and its efficiency in eliminating pathogens, and concluded with a simple suggestion for people to sign her petition and pass it along. So far, it is working – in less than two days, the petition has already attracted nearly 4,500 of its 5,000 signature goal.
This isn’t the only battle that adversaries of pink slime will have to face: a new report on ABC World News indicates that as much as 70 percent of ground beef sold in United States supermarkets is made with the stuff. But one has to start somewhere. Those interested in reading or signing the petition can check it out here.