Here it goes again… My cousin turned me on to this piece:
“Pink slime” burger? McDonald’s and Taco Bell have banned it, but now the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is buying 7 million pounds of beef containing ammonium hydroxide-treated ground connective tissue and meat scraps and serving it up to America’s school kids. If you thought cafeteria food was gross before….
According to TheDaily.com, the term “pink slime” was coined by microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, formerly of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service. He first saw it being mixed into burger meat when he was touring a Beef Products Inc (BPI) facility in 2002 after an outbreak of salmonella. “Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein told The Daily.
“Pink slime,” which is officially called “Lean Beef Trimmings,” is banned for human consumption in the United Kingdom. It is commonly used in dog and chicken food. Celebrity chef and safe food advocate Jamie Oliver featured the substance and called for its ban on the April 12, 2011 episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which may have influenced McDonald’s to stop using beef patties containing the filler.
Reportedly, Zirnstein and his colleague Carl Custer studied the substance and classified it as a “high risk product.” Custer, who worked at the Food Safety Inspection service for 35 years, says, “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.”
Another issue is the ammonium hydroxide, a chemical that is used to kill pathogens such as E. coli. The FDA considers it safe for human consumption but a 2009 expose by the New York Times questioned its safety and efficacy. Some food advocates are asking for meat containing “pink slime” to be labeled. It’s used in about 70% of ground beef in the US. “We don’t know which districts are receiving what meat, and this meat isn’t labeled to show pink slime. They don’t have to under federal law,” Bettina Siegal, a writer and mother of two who created TheLunchTray.com told NBC. Siegel has started a petition to demand the USDA stop using the product in the National School Lunch Program.
Until last night, I knew nothing about them… but as I attended the F.A.R.M. program (Food Art Revolution Media) last night it was one of the topics that Melinda and Dan Hemmelgarn discussed last night.
These laws currently exist in 13 states and do things like banning photographers from taking pictures of food processing plants, or writing articles protesting farms that spray their crops with Monsanto poisons, or just discussing in the public press (and no doubt in blogs like this one) the disadvantages of non-organic farming.
The food disparagement movement has major corporate support (Monsanto, Dow, Buckeye Eggs and others) and haul people into court with their heavy economic advantage if the smallest criticism is raised. This has been going on since the 1990’s (a lot of it came out because of films like “Food, Inc.” or the works of Michael Moore.)
to raise safety and health concerns about the foods we eat, such as the levels of mercury in our fish or the levels of pesticides in imported foods. State laws that permit lawsuits against those who question the safety of foods can have a chilling effect on public health discourse. That is not the American way –healthy debate on issues of public concern is how this country does business.
The FoodSpeak Coalition highlights the chilling effect that these laws have on the exercise of free speech. Defamation laws should not intimidate citizens and the press who want to speak out about food safety.
Americans in all states must be allowed to openly debate issues of public health.
I spoke with a woman at the meeting last night whose 5-year work on a book concerning the dangers of chemical spraying on US Agriculture has been filed away indefinitely because she is afraid of lawsuit under food disparagement laws… and West Virginia doesn’t even have such laws. States like Iowa and Florida are affecting the entire country.
- FDA moves to Govern Global Food Laws (yourdaddy.net)
- Food Fight: Farmers Unite Against Monsanto (bigthink.com)
- Organic farmers file suit to protect themselves from Monsanto’s aggressive practices. (isiria.wordpress.com)
- Organic Farmers Unite Against Monsanto In Battle For Future of Food (singularityhub.com)
- GMO Foods and The Consumer (socyberty.com)
- Recipe for Food Safety (time.com)
- Monsanto Will Soon Be Allowed To Police Itself (fastcompany.com)
- Speak out on Monsanto… Tell the President… (underthelobsterscope.wordpress.com)
- Alfalfa a key battleground in organic farming war (theglobeandmail.com)
- How to identify Genetically Modified foods at Whole Foods… (underthelobsterscope.wordpress.com)