Food Poisoning Bulletin reported two months ago that McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell are no longer using beef mixed with that product. But the USDA is still purchasing meat mixed with pink slime for school lunches.
Pink slime is a filler of low-grade beef trim treated with ammonium hydroxide, which kills bacteria, most notably E. coli, in the product. The “low-grade beef” is connective tissue and beef scraps usually used for dog food or made into cooking oil.
Many food experts say pink slime should be listed on the product label, along with the ammonia used to make it. BPI asked the government to classify the ammonia as a “processing agent”, not an ingredient. That loophole lets them avoid listing ammonia on the product label.
The USDA has said that pink slime is safe, although that agency’s undersecretary JoAnn Smith, who allegedly wanted the product approved, is connected to the beef industry. In fact, Ms. Smith was president of the National Cattlemen’s Association and now serves on the board of Tyson Foods. Smith was appointed to the USDA by President Bush in 1989.
The USDA says that 6.5% of the beef in the national school lunch product is pink slime. In fact, the government is buying 7 million pounds of pink slime for the national school lunch program in the next few months.