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Is Your Child Eating Pink Slime?

Photo courtesy of john.murden/Flickr.


You might think this is a trick question. (Of course my child is not eating “pink slime.”) But, don’t be so quick to answer no.

The USDA is buying 7 million pounds of “pink slime” to serve in school cafeterias. What is pink slime? It is beef containing ammonium hydroxide-treated ground connective tissue and meat scraps. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? It got its name from microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, who used to work for the USDA in their Safety Inspection Service department.

Pink slime is usually used in dog and chicken feed. It has been banned for human consumption in the United Kingdom. Zirnstein and a colleague, Carl Custer, a 35 year FDA inspector, studied the slime and classified it as “high risk.” These two professionals objected to the slime because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It is not meat.

Pink slime is used in close to 70 percent of the ground beef in the U.S. For now there is no way of telling which meat contains the slime because Federal Law does not require it to be listed on the labels. There is also no way of knowing if your child is eating pink slime or not because there is no way of knowing which school districts are receiving the meat.

Both McDonald’s and Taco Bell have banned the slime. It must be bad if even fast food restaurants, who are known for serving unhealthy food, refuse to serve it.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of The University of Montana, animal lover and writer.

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