Over on my main blog, The Lunch Tray, I’m getting quite an education in the awesome power of social media.
On Monday, the online publication the Daily reported that the USDA has purchased ground beef for use in the National School Lunch Program containing, collectively, 7 million pounds of the substance commonly known as “pink slime.” For those who aren’t familiar with pink slime, it’s a product (officially called “Lean Beef Trimmings”) produced Beef Products, Inc., a processing plant in South Dakota. BPI injects a mixture of cooking oil and fatty beef trimmings (formerly used only for pet food and rendering, not human consumption) with ammonia hydroxide in an attempt to remove E. coli and salmonella. (Because of where these scraps come from on the cow’s carcass, they’re more likely to be infected with pathogens than other meat.)
I had written about pink slime on The Lunch Tray in 2010 (“One Burger, Please, Extra Ammonia and Hold the E Coli
“) and thought at that time that the USDA had decided to out an end to its use in school food. But I was obviously mistaken, as the Daily
story made clear.
I was outraged by the fact that American school children are being fed a product of questionable safety — and which wasn’t even regarded as fit for human consumption in the recent past — so I decided to start my very first Change.org petition
about it. I posted the link on The Lunch Tray
Tuesday morning, shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and then left the house to go about my day.
You can imagine my surprise when, hours later, the petition had garnered over 600 signatures. By late afternoon, it had reached 1,000. As of this writing, almost 3,500 people have signed on — and the number goes up every few minutes. In the meantime, I’ve been interviewed about this issue by Channel Two News
here in Houston, the petition has been mentioned in the Washington Post
blog, and requests for more interviews are coming in.
I’ve been so gratified by this overwhelming response and hope that Spork Report readers will consider signing and sharing the petition
as well. And if you’d like more information on why pink slime has no place on our kids’ lunch trays, be sure to check out this excellent article
posted by Tom Philpott today.
Before signing off, I’d like to make clear that although this is an HISD school food blog, I have no knowledge of whether the meat served to Houston students contains pink slime. Indeed, because the federal government doesn’t require its labeling on ground beef, it’s very hard for any district to know whether or not the beef it uses contains this substance.
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[While I serve on HISD's Food Services Parent Advisory Committee and the district's School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), all views expressed here (and on The Lunch Tray) are entirely my own.]