‘Pink slime:’ Combo of connective tissue, scraps hidden in your kids’ lunch

Fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have recently dropped the ‘pink slime’ from their beef – but schools across the country are still serving it, The Daily reported.

The term ‘pink slime’ was first coined in 2002 by Food Safety Inspection Service microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, who toured a Beef Products Inc. production facility. Zirnstein later emailed his colleagues and told them he did not “consider the stuff to be ground beef,” according to the online news site.

Pink slime is a mix of ground-up connective tissue and beef scraps that are normally meant for dog food. BPI’s Lean Beef Trimmings are then treated with ammonia hydroxide to kill salmonella and E. coli, and mixed into ground beef or hamburger.

“We originally called it soylent pink,” Carl Custer, another microbiologist with the Food Safety Inspection Service, told The Daily. “We looked at the product, and we objected to it because it used connective tissue instead of muscle. It was simply not nutrionally equivalent (to ground beef). My main objection was that it was not meat.”

When Custer expressed his concerns about pink slime, the USDA said it was safe. However, in 2005, it limited the amount of ammonia-treated LBT in one serving of ground beef to 15 percent. But by the way it is packaged – you’d never know whether it’s in there, or how much.

“Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein said in The Daily.

Zirnstein and Custer said pink slime is “a high-risk product,” so they wrote their own report, looking at the safety of it.

This year, the USDA has plans to purchase 7 million pounds of Lean Beef Trimmings for the national school lunch program.

The USDA considers itself to “meet the highest standard for food safety,” according to its statement.

“They’ve taken a processed product, without labeling it, and added it to raw ground beef,” Zirnstein said. “Science is the truth, and pink slime at this point in time is a fraudulent lie.”

BPI did not respond to an inquiry for comment from The Daily.

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