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Science, Slime and Food: What's a Consumer to Do?

The news coverage of the “Pink Slime” in beef has increased awareness of chemicals and fillers in everyday foods.

The latest food news concerning the has increased awareness that our food may not be all "food."

Pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB) or boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT) is a "low-grade beef-based food additive that may be added to ground beef and beef-based processed meat products." (United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is processed, heated, and treated with ammonia to kill E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. Hmm. Last I knew ammonia was used in fertilizers and household cleaners and deemed toxic if ingested?

It may be interesting for some to hear that LFTB was introduced into our beef 11 years ago. Eldon Roth created this method of using beef scraps contaminated by bacteria as fillers and in 2001 it was approved for use in our meat by the USDA and FDA.

Although legal and “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) by the USDA, “Pink Slime” is not legal as a food additive in Canada and the United Kingdom.

As a writer for the consumers in Milford, I made many calls to local establishments to inquire about the beef they served. Some were very helpful, others were very defensive. Why would a company be defensive by my simply wanting to know what is in my food?

Use Don't Use Did not know Milford Schools

Meat sauces,
meatballs, premade. Only 6.5% compared to market 15%
Next year none

Hannaford's Yes. They will discontinue over next few months Some do not; ask at store Shaw's *Defensive and dismissive. Given corporate number which was out of service. Stop & Shop

Yes. Ask to have your meat ground

80% does not Prezo x Bugaboo Creek x Applebee's x Pinz x Ninety Nine x Scioli's x Acapulco's x Alamo x Friday's x Truffles unavailable 5 Guys x Pepperoncini's did not contact

Frankly, it isn’t the ”Pink Slime” in the meat that is the true issue here. Let’s face it, many foods in our diets are loaded with preservatives, dyes and other unpronounceable ingredients. But, when we purchase a hot dog, we know it is not really food. For 11 years our meat has been “filled” with and we have ingested ammonia at some level without transparency from our government, food processing plants, packaging companies and suppliers. Is the government tracking whether this ammonia (and other additives) are cumulative in our body over time? Why is our food filled and made into a ‘science’ instead of a means to offer nutrients to keep our bodies functioning at optimal levels?

“Food science is a study concerned with all technical aspects of foods, beginning with harvesting or slaughtering, and ending with its cooking and consumption, an ideology commonly referred to as "from field to fork." It is considered one of the life sciences and is usually considered distinct from the field of nutrition. The idea that something called "food science" is to be considered distinct from the field of nutrition is not only ridiculous, but infuriating to the consumer who naively trusts that beef is beef, sugar is sugar and a “spinach wrap” has spinach in it.

We are spending a lot of money to feed our families. We trust we are being served food (not science). We are not signing up for scientific experiments at the grocery store or restaurant checkout. And truly, why are we eating and serving our children “food” that is “GRAS?” If we want science we will visit a science museum. As consumers, it is time we start demanding all food additives be labeled clearly for what they are (such as listing TBHQ and BHT as petroleum) and ask questions when they aren’t.

MilfordMomof3 April 11, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Milford schools owe it to the children to feed them better quality food. I have the feeling we have a high percentage of children that eat free lunch daily and deserve a healthy meal. And if you think pink slime is gross, look up some other ingredients in your local food. Panera and Dunkin Donuts both use l cysteine which is human hair or duck feathers.
Danielle Horn April 11, 2012 at 07:38 PM
One of our fans on Facebook said she spoke to Shaw's and that they do sell meat with "pink slime."
Lisa Vasile April 12, 2012 at 12:38 AM
MilfordMom, I spoke to Mrs. Tuttle for a long time. She was immediately responsive, transparent, helpful and empathetic to the plea of serving the best quality food to our children but it isn't MILFORD schools' choice of the meat supplies; it is the USDA. They are the decision makers and they distribute to ALL the town & state schools regardless of free lunch, etc. The USDA uses 6.5% LFTB in comparison to the 15% in grocery stores and as Mrs. Tuttle said, as soon as this was publicized, the schools decided they would not be using any meat with LFTB filler in the new (fall 2012) school year. You made a solid point about other ingredients; consumers should empower themselves to read ingredients, demand transparency and push the food suppliers and retailers to decrease or remove unnecessary or potentially harmful (and unappetizing) ingredients.
MilfordMomof3 April 12, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Thank you for the information Lisa!
Ray Fellows April 12, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Thank you Lisa for the great information. We are going to include this data with our healthy lifestyles for kids program.

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