The USDA is sticking to its guns when it comes to the safety of the so-called “pink slime” beef product that has outraged parents and consumer over the last two weeks. But, because of the aforementioned parents, the government branch has conceded to offer schools the option to use something else for their burgers, NPR reports. Yay?
Also known as “select lean beef trimmings” or “Lean Finely Textured Beef” (LFTB), the meat product was previously used by McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and other fast food restaurants, before most chains recently decided to end its use as a result of consumer anger. Made from a blend of stray beef trimming and ammonium (both of which are technically safe, albeit unappetizing and not adequately labeled, due to USDA ruling on meat labeling), LFTB-fever died down shortly after it was no longer being served to grown-ups…but quickly became a hot topic again, when it was announced that the USDA would foist 7 million pounds of it onto school cafeteria menus. This did not bode well with parents, and, as a result, the government organization has decided to allow school administrators the discretion to choose non-slime ground beef for their menus.
Of course, the hullabaloo over the “pink-slime” was, as I’ve pointed out, a little misdirected–it’s far from being the only problematic, under-labeled meat or dairy product that is being sold to children in school lunches and breakfasts…and it’s not just going to kids, either. Many ground beef products in grocery store aisles still contain it, but aren’t required to state so anywhere on the package. All of which points back to the same problem: lobbying groups like those that represent the meat industry and the USDA are intimately attached, and not often in the best interest of the consumer, both when it comes to labeling, and what kids get on their lunch trays.
Even still, many parents whose children rely on school lunch for an adequate source of nutrition will feel better knowing that there’s a possibility that the meat could be trimming-and-ammonia-free. And, if parents want to continue to battle, they can always write to their school administrators and demand that they take advantage of this opportunity.
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