After a not-so-appetizing public uproar, McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) recently ended its use of ground beef scraps that get treated with ammonium hydroxide to prevent food-borne pathogens from contaminating the finished product. That product has become known as “pink slime,” which got wide public attention after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver started a campaign against it.
McDonalds was sourcing that pink slime from Beef Products Inc., which says ammonium hydroxide occurs naturally in most foods and helps reduce bacteria. Still, one might have thought that this would be the end of easily available pink slime.
But no. Turns out Uncle Sam is still buying the stuff – and is feeding it to America’s kids. A report this week in The Daily details how two microbiologists, Gerald Zirnstein and Carl Custer, who once worked for the Food Safety Inspection Service have been tracking the use of BPI’s “Lean Beef Trimings” product for more than a decade.
Custer told The Daily: “We originally called it soylent pink. We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”
However, even after all the outcry over McDonald’s use of this stuff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is sticking with its plans to buy 7 million pounds of Lean Beef Trimmings for the country’s school lunch program, claiming it meets food-safety standards.
C’mon Uncle Sam – if you’re going to fork over taxpayers’ money to help nourish America’s hungry kids, can’t you at least make sure it’s the real thing?