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Food Safety Advocates Use Social Media and Petitions to Force Change in the U.S. Because the FDA Won't Do It!

"Pink Slime" --- Just Say NO!

BFI's pink slime process - Does anyone really want to eat this stuff?

BFI's pink slime process - Does anyone really want to eat this stuff?

Remember the 2011-2014 Pink Slime Controversy? News Reports in August 2014 Say PINK SLIME is back!

(Warning: You may not want to read this just before or right after a meal!)

By now, everyone not living in a cave knows about the ground meat additive "Pink Slime" and the resulting controversy. The ammonia-treated beef filler was found in many fast food burgers and tacos, sold in 70% of U.S. supermarkets and, indeed, approved for the country's public school lunch program until a David-and-Goliath battle between food safety advocates and Beef Products, Inc. BFI was the chief producer of the additive the industry calls "lean, finely-textured beef", or LFTB.

The bright light of media attention was shown on this so-called food product in 2011 by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, when he invited moms and kids to eat meat with ammonia and water poured over it, a video that played repeatedly on YouTube. (One clip alone from the Food Revolution show featuring Pink Slime was viewed 21,451 times at the time of this writing.) In early 2012, a series of reports by ABC News increased attention on the dubious meat filler, and articles in The New York Times heightened consumer awareness.

Pink Slime was in the news, but the additive wasn't new. In fact, it had been around since the '90s, at first limited to pet food and cooking oil, but approved in 2004 for human consumption and introduced into the food supply. For decades, kids made jokes about school cafeteria "mystery meat", but by 2012 the mystery was solved and the truth highly publicized.

The New York Times' investigative report uncovered a nasty secret that was covered up for years. Claims made by BPI and the USDA that treating "pink slimed" ground meat with ammonia kills pathogens simply was not true. Actual government and industry records obtained by the Times verified that both E. coli and salmonella pathogens were found in numerous tests of BPI products for the school lunch program. In fact, in August, 2009, two 27,000-pound batches of "treated" meat were found to be contaminated. And this stuff had been fed to American kids! When this information became public, the you-know-what hit the fan!

While First Lady Michelle Obama was focusing attention on feeding children healthily and preventing childhood obesity, public school lunch programs were putting ammonia-treated meat with probable dangerous bacteria on their lunch trays. In addition, fast food restaurants were churning out Pink Slime burgers and tacos for consumption by the American public. Who wanted their families eating nasty, unsafe food--not to mention the "yuck" factor? That's right--no one! The Pink Slime Scandal went viral almost overnight.

The bad publicity caused McDonald's to hurriedly announce they didn't sell it (although they did until the bad publicity), and other fast food restaurants were quick to publicize they would "just say no" to Pink Slime for their products. Let's hope they meant what they told the public, as a product with this additive isn't required to be labeled in the U.S., so there's no way for consumers to actually know. Maybe you trust retail establishments such as restaurants and grocery stores, but we all know the bottom line talks louder than anything else to managers of those establishments. Pink Slimed meat, as with any cheap product, was easy to sell to cash-strapped people in a struggling economy looking for bargains.

A study performed by microbiologists and former USDA scientists Carl Custer and Gerald Zernstein (who coined the term "pink slime") determined that pink-slimed meat is a high-risk product. No surprise there when you learn more about the stuff. Custer maintains he first encountered the product in the late 1990s and was vocal about his concerns to other officials at the food inspection service.

The USDA, an agency that is supposed to look out for the safety and well-being of American consumers and those from other countries that import U.S. food products, instead appears to safeguard the interests of big agribusiness companies. The USDA ignored the warnings of their own scientists and ruled that the additive--termed "Lean Beef Trimmings"---was safe. Custer says word got around the office that "...undersecretary JoAnn Smith pushed it through, and that was that."

Smith was appointed Undersecretary of Agriculture by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. She had close links with the beef industry and served as president of not only the Florida Cattlemen's Association, but the National Cattlemen's Association as well. Over the objections of USDA scientists, she said, "It's pink; therefore, it's meat", according to Custer. When she stepped down from her government job in 1993, she was appointed to the board of directors for BPI's major supplier, where she proceeded to rake in more than a million dollars during the next 17 years. Does the term "conflict of interest" come to mind in this story?

So, what exactly IS Pink Slime? Well, former undersecretary Smith may have called it "meat", but it's really a cheap filler made of waste beef trimmings, the parts of the animal most likely to be exposed to E. coli and salmonella pathogens. These waste trimmings, once a mainstay in many commercial dog foods (though many people now avoid feeding their pets meat byproducts), are simmered at low heat to separate fat from muscle. The de-fatted connective tissue that's left is sprayed with ammonia gas, which is supposed to kill bacteria...only we've learned that sometimes it doesn't. Then the mixture is frozen and sold to retailers and meat packers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows up to 15% of ground beef to be Pink Slime (though they don't call it that.)

Pure ground meat for hamburger products is routinely tested by the USDA for contamination, but the agency considered the ammonia treatment of meat-with-filler from Beef Products, Inc. so safe that it was exempted from testing! Ammonia, a toxin that can turn into ammonium nitrate (used in cleaning products and fertilizer), isn't technically an ingredient, but a processing agent, so it isn't even required to be listed on a food label. The plot thickens!

That shrink-wrapped package of brightly-colored ground beef lying in your local supermarket's meat cooler probably included pink slime between 2004 and Spring, 2012, but there was no way you could know for certain. (It still may, if retailers aren't being honest with consumers.) The ammonia treatment fixes the pink color so it looks like pure ground beef. If you want to ensure you're getting a pure beef product with no imitation meat, gross waste trimmings or toxic ammonia--not to mention the possibility of E. coli or salmonella contamination--you'll stop rewarding your local supermarket for trying to poison you and change to safer sources you know you can trust.

There are better sources for meat products


As long as people buy cheap unsafe meat, the industry will provide it

If you're lucky, you'll search out a local farmer whose farming practices you can trust. Maybe you already know a farmer in your area who raises beef cattle humanely and will sell a side of beef to individuals for their freezers. The Local Harvest website can lead you to local farmers markets and sources of safe, sustainably grown foods, including grass-fed meats, eggs from pasture-raised hens and dairy products from humanely raised milk cows.

If you need to range farther afield (pun intended), there are still quite a few ranchers in the U.S. who produce grass-fed, humanely raised animals for meat and take pride in their practices and products. Many are as close as your Internet search engine, and they will ship products to you packed with dry ice. You may decide it's better to pay more for safe meat products and eat less of it, perhaps serving vegetarian meals two or three nights per week, for the safety and health of your family.

Social networking assists food safety advocacy on a grassroots level

The Pink Slime controversy showed food safety advocates and regular consumers they had a powerful weapon against Big Agribusiness: social networking. Twitter became an activist platform, and consumers threatened to boycott retailers who sold Pink Slime. Bettina Siegel, a Houston blogger, posted an online petition demanding that the USDA remove the additive from the federal public school lunch program. It quickly gathered 250,000 signatures and the agency felt the pressure. An announcement was made that schools would be allowed to choose for the upcoming school year whether or not to use ground beef containing L.F.T.B.It didn't take long before sales for Pink Slime were drying up (pun intended), and BPI was closing plants that processed the additive.

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Still, with a troubled U.S. economy and under-funded school districts across the country, there was a worry that some schools might not be able to pay extra for the better quality meat, which could turn the public school lunch system into one of "haves" and "have nots."

While the furor raised by parents and other citizens against Pink Slime in public school lunches prompted most states to pay the higher price (3% more) for "non-slimed" meat, three states--Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota--chose to continue buying beef containing Pink Slime for their schools for the 2012-2013 school year (as reported by the Associated Press in June, 2012). It's interesting to note that BPI is based in South Dakota and previously had facilities in Iowa, facts which may have affected priorities in those two states. It would be very sad to learn that politics had anything to do with school boards' decisions in the three states that purchased Pink Slime to feed children.

Chef Ann Cooper launched the National School Food Challenge to increase salad and fruit bars in schools across the U.S. so children have better choices. She supports the Farm to School program that involves local farms in serving healthy nutritious meals in school cafeterias for the good of both students and farmers.

It's long been said that it takes a village to raise a child. If that's true, then we all need to become part of that village and make sure every child gets healthy food to eat, not PINK SLIME!

Pink Slime was only the tip of the iceberg relative to food safety issues in the U.S. Now that ordinary consumers recognize the power that social networking, petitions and boycott threats give them, perhaps more improvements will begin at the grassroots level.

Consumer Outrage Sparked Campaign to Discontinue Pink Slime in School Lunches

Students shouldn't be fed potentially unsafe food in school cafeterias.

Students shouldn't be fed potentially unsafe food in school cafeterias.

And don't forget veggies!

Organic veggies, that is!

Organic veggies, that is!

UPDATE, August, 2014: Pink Slime is Being Added to Meat Again!

Two years after consumer anger and activism forced meat processors, grocery stores and restaurants to stop using “pink slime” (slaughterhouse remnants treated with ammonia and added to some ground beef), the increase in beef prices has caused the 'yucky' by-product to be added to beef again as a cost-cutting measure by suppliers. And labeling of pink slime (known in the industry by the more sedate term of 'lean, finely-textured meat', or LFTB), is still not required by the USDA.

If you don't want to worry about what you're eating and feeding your family in those grilled burgers, feel free to take to Twitter, Facebook or numerous blogs and forums to voice your displeasure. It's always possible this news tidbit will launch a new grassroots action big enough to get pink slime out of supermarket coolers and fast-food burgers/tacos. It worked two years ago. It could be successful again! Social networking gives consumers more visibility and power!

In the interim, if you buy local, grass-fed beef from a producer you trust, you won't have to worry about pink slime, and you also won't have to worry about the plethora of hormones, antibiotics and additional veterinary drugs, GMO feed, and other unsafe substances that traditionally-produced (read: by Big Ag on factory farms) beef contains.


Down with pink slime!

How do You Feel about Pink Slime?

WAIT! There's more! The number of toxic additives in the U.S. food supply is staggering!

UPDATE, March, 2015: Although 90% of the American public made the White House, Congress, and the FDA aware of their (our) wish for GMO labeling (which is required in some other countries, while GMOs are outright banned in others), the FDA still ignores independent studies that provide evidence of short-term harm from consuming GMOs. Worse, there are no long-term studies, so who knows what harm the plethora of GMO foods contained in nearly all processed foods and other non-organic whole foods will eventually cause to consumers' health as well as the environment?

There's a growing grassroots effort by fed-up Americans to force change with or without the government's help. We can vote with our wallets, buy organic whole foods that don't contain pesticide residue or GMOs, and avoid processed foods that are packed with unsafe--and in some cases, downright deadly--additives. We can boycott food manufacturers, grocery store chains, and fast food joints that continue to produce and sell this swill to the American public.

There are numerous books written by prominent food safety activists, but the one I'm going to recommend to every American consumer is now available from Amazon, easy to read (unless you have a weak stomach, in which case don't read it before a meal), and written by a food safety activist who has taken on some big fast food chains, food manufacturers and grocery chains with positive results. She just doesn't accept the word, "no."

Her name is Vani Hari, but if you've read her blog as I have for a long time, you may recognize her as the Food Babe--a name that was coined by her husband to get attention (and it worked). She's been named one of the 30 most influential people on the Internet in 2015 by Time magazine (and in my opinion, she's one of the few on the list who deserves the recognition). An entire "army" of her blog followers have become food safety activists in their own right and support her on social media, by signing petitions, boycotting unsafe foods, and--most importantly--keeping her focused on what is important when she is attacked by paid shills of those companies she has in the cross-hairs of her activism.

Now she's written a book that explains how she became interested in food safety in order to improve her own health, control her weight and skin (you only have to look at her photo to see that it worked) through reading food labels, avoiding additives, eating whole safe foods, and drinking purified water. She was a successful business consultant who started a blog to share what she'd learned and, once she realized that she'd touched a chord in a huge group of Americans "tired and sick of being tired and sick", decided that food safety activism is her mission in life. At that point, she quit her job and became a full-time activist.

The book lists some really gross and scary additives to foods you may eat every day--particularly if you eat out a lot or frequent fast food joints. Bites of yoga mat, anyone? "Natural" flavorings made from the anal glands of beetles and other insects? Chemicals with long names you can't pronounce, but which have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders, to name only a few? You owe it to yourself to read Vani Hari's book, "THE FOOD BABE WAY: Break Free from the Hidden Toxins in Your Food and Lose Weight, Look Years Younger, and Get Healthy in Just 21 days!" It's available at Amazon (link below).

My advice (as well as Vani's) is to not just read the book, but make it an interactive workbook. Underline, highlight, and re-read portions every day until you know how to decipher misleading food labels. There are appendices chock full of recommended reading and resources. I encourage you to check them out. They will introduce you to other important food safety advocates and activists whose messages are equally important and will add to your personal knowledge of what's wrong with the U.S. food supply. Vani even includes a shopping list to help keep you on the straight and narrow when you purchase food.

The expose´ in this book of dangerous additives in the food you may have been eating for years (and even worse, feeding your developing children) will open your eyes to two things: (1) the need for Americans to ensure our own safe food supply by our buying habits, and (2) that we can force change to the safety of the U.S. food supply by working together. That's quite a deal for the $12.99 Kindle edition, $16.20 for the hardcover edition (my fave because you can write in the margins, underline important info, and highlight sections in it). There are also audible audio and audio CD formats available. See the link below.

If you buy the book, read it, and get as fired up as most people (including me) do when you see how the food industry is hoodwinking us into eating so-called "food" full of cheap, unhealthy toxins, I feel confident you will take to social media and share this message with your friends. Since most of us are not going to move to the EU or other countries where the governments care enough to protect their citizens from unsafe food additives, we must join together to protect ourselves and our families. WE CAN DO THIS!

Vani Hari's Book--THE FOOD BABE WAY--will Open Your Eyes to Dangers in the U.S. Food Supply!

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Read Mary's hub about her devastating experience with "doctored" meat!

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© 2012 Jaye Denman


Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 19, 2015:

Thanks for your kind words, Paula, and for the votes and sharing of this hub. A safe food supply in the U.S. has become a cause of paramount importance to me. It does more than annoy me that we have to be paranoid about the food we eat--it makes me fighting mad! Although I climb up on my soapbox frequently to expound on this topic, I've decided to channel some of that energy into positive methods of spreading the word: We consumers must be diligent food label readers if we are to avoid ingesting toxins.

Every time we refuse to buy an unsafe product, we strike a blow at the greedy corporations that want our money whatever the ultimate cost to our health. "Boycott" is a beautiful word, isn't it, GF?


Suzie from Carson City on March 19, 2015:

Jaye...your super talent is showing again. What a clearly educational hub, holding your reader's interest about (for lack of a better word) a "yuk" topic. For certain the vegans are applauding you and the red meat consumers are thinking twice (I hope!)

For the amount of red meat I have ever eaten, I'm afraid I have not paid as much attention to these facts as I probably should. My reason all these years has been a matter of personal taste. Of all foods, red meat simply came in very last on my list

It is only by learning as time went on that I have been definitely better off. The "pink slime" hullabaloo caused a stir I didn't bother to get deeply involved with. Mistake of course, because to "know" is important whether it effects us personally or not,.

Jaye, I am not at all happy that in addition to all of our many cautions & concerns, we also must be paranoid diners! Does this ever annoy you?......We poor humans!.....UP+++ tweeted & pinned.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 19, 2015:

Thank you, Mary. In spite of her somewhat frivolous blog name, Food Babe, I think you will be impressed with Vani Hari's energy and determination to fight the $$$ GREED of the Big Food, Big Ag and Big Chemical industries. Certainly, she gives credit to her many thousands of followers who are each doing their parts to spread the message of toxins in our food supply on social networks and other venues.

Vani looks so healthy in her photos that she's a striking endorsement for eating carefully. She explains in the book that she was overweight and had health issues before she learned about dangerous food additives and changed her eating habits during her twenties. If she can make such positive changes through eating well, so can other people.

Take care....Jaye

Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 19, 2015:

Hi, I just came back to read your additional info and I will certainly buy the book you mentioned. We, the people, have to be food advocates, I agree. It all comes down to profits, profits, profits!!

Thanks for adding the link to my Hub; I have included this Hub link into mine. I had lunch today with a friend who just doesn't understand why I am so "worked up" about this! Maybe we can make more people aware of this. I called the manager of the restaurant about my illness. He denies they use glued surprise there!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 19, 2015:

Peggy - Thanks for your comments, votes and sharing. You raised a very good point--that of buying meat directly from a family farm. Sharing such a purchase with family or friends can lower your cost while ensuring your meat doesn't come from big corporations' "factory farms", where animals live their lives in cruel misery, are often killed without any compassion in the process (a certain percentage of cows whose throats are cut without their first being stunned is approved by the USDA), the meat sold harbors not only antibiotics and hormones to force fast growth, but other veterinary medications, and the cows are fed cheap GMO feed.

I don't eat beef, but if I did it would not come from a factory farm! If enough consumers bought local farmer-raised beef (raised in the type of farm environment that we grew up knowing about), a major crimp in Big Ag's profits would occur. You can find local farmers for meat, produce, eggs, etc. and also farmers markets and food co-ops on these websites: www DOT localharvestDOTorg and wwwDOTeatwildDOTcom.

I encourage you to check out Vani Hari, aka Food Babe. If you want to read her blog before buying the book, you'll find it (including archives) at foodbabeDOTcom.



Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 19, 2015:

After reading Mary's hub yesterday about Glued Meat or Pink Slime and then reading this, I am really disgusted with our USDA which is supposed to be protecting us but obviously is not.

When I was a child, my parents used to purchase a 1/4 to 1/2 side of beef from a local farmer who did the slaughtering. It was all packaged up in freezer paper and labeled as to what cuts of beef it was to their specifications. Not everyone has freezer space in which to do this so we all must rethink how we continue to purchase meat in the future.

Thank you for raising awareness of this problem. Sharing by tweeting, G+, pinning and sending to HP followers. I am also going to look up Vani Hari on the Internet. UUI votes as well.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 19, 2015:

Hi, Mary - I'm so sorry you got sick after eating food from the drastically unregulated U.S. food supply. I hope you're feeling better, and I'm glad you shared your experience in a hub. I will find time to read it today.

Of course you may link my "pink slime" hub to yours on glued meat. The more people who learn the truth about what the FDA allows in the food supply (in spite of much evidence about potential harm), the better they can protect themselves and their families. If it's okay with you, I'll also link your hub here as they relate.

I'm so disgusted with the way the U.S. government lets big corporations and commercial organizations call the shots regarding food additives and other unsafe products that I've become a food safety advocate in my golden years. There is a groundswell of anger among U.S. consumers who want to know exactly what they're buying at the grocery store. With growing numbers, boycotts of suspicious products (and, in fact, all products of companies who obviously care more about their profits than Americans' health), we are making our wishes known. If the government won't step in and ensure the food supply is safe, we will make certain that we only buy foods we know are safe. Currently, that means whole (unprocessed) organic foods, which is the only way to be confident about their safety. What angers me so much is that the European Union and other countries ban many of the additives allowed for sale in the United States. Our Congress has a lot to answer for, in my opinion, with the acceptance of funding from corporations that amounts to bribes.

I am also recommending the book I recently read by Vani Hari (aka Food Babe), entitled, THE FOOD BABE WAY (Break Free from the Hidden Toxins in your Food). Her exposes of the horrendous and dangerous additives being fed to the American public by fast food chains, restaurants, and processed food manufacturers is an eye-opener!

Take care, Mary, and join in the fight for safe food in the U.S.


Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 19, 2015:

Hi, Jayne. This Hub is a related one to the one I just published on the subject of glued meat and pink slime. I became quite ill after eating a nice big juicy steak at a nice restaurant, I did some research on my symptoms, etc. That's when I discovered many articles on the net about glued meat. Seems the interior of the meat is derived from smaller cuts of cheap meat, that part of the steak may be undercooked and could have E. Coli (among other pathogens).

I wrote a Hub just yesterday about eating glued meat and pink slime, and this Hub is a related one to mine.

You wrote a very informative and well searched Hub. I would be pleased if you would allow me to link this Hub into mine. May I?

We certainly need to make more people aware of what can be legally added to our food.

Voted this UP, etc. and shared.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on September 19, 2014:

ThatMommyBlogger- Thanks for reading and commenting. The U.S. food system drives me up the wall, too, and I'm a very loud critic of both the (corrupt) FDA, USDA and even the EPA. With their focus on protecting the obscene profits of the greedy giant corporations that own their souls, these agencies, as well as Congress, forget their mandate to protect the well-being of U.S. citizens. Makes me furious--so much so that I became a senior citizen activist. Regards, Jaye

Missy from The Midwest on September 19, 2014:

Very interesting article. I'm passionate about healthy living, and the food system in America drives me crazy.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on June 17, 2014:

Shyron - Chickens produced in a U.S. 'factory farm' environment are already so unhealthy and unsafe that I wouldn't feed them to my dog. (I don't. She gets organics only, and I hope this plan doesn't include organics which should be prevented by the USDA rules)

However, those chickens could be contaminated even worse than they normally are if shipped to China for processing. By the way, can you imagine the cost of all this international shipping, not to mention the catastrophes than can occur in transit. It boggles the mind!


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 17, 2014:

Jaye, I read and heard on the radio news that our chickens will be sent to China for processing and then sent back to us. How scary is that when they send us toy that have been painted with lead paint?

Thumbs up on this UAI and will share.


Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on June 14, 2014:

Hi, Nell - The 'pink slime' debacle in the U.S. was pretty gross. What really angered so many people was that the agency that's supposed to ensure food quality in this country (the USDA) was actually selling the nasty additive 'meat' called Pink Slime to public schools. It got a lot of negative press in the U.S. (similar to 2013's horsement scandal in the UK).

I can't blame you for going vegetarian. I eat a mainly plant-based diet and get queasy just from the smell of meat cooking. If I realized the 'meat' was equine, that would really make me ill! I'll bet a lot of Brits re-considered their meat-eating after that issue was exposed.

Actually, the horsemeat scandal got a lot of press here too. In fact, I recall reading the transcript of an interview with Princess Anne in which she said there's nothing wrong with eating horsemeat! In the same article, she advocated gassing badgers (or some small animal, but it seems as though it was badgers) and also said she's all for GMO foods. I remember being surprised she made such controversial statements to the press because I thought members of the royal family were expected to steer clear from such topics. I suppose it's difficult not to air your own opinions, royal or not.

Here's to vegetarianism! Thanks for reading.


Nell Rose from England on June 14, 2014:

Hi, yuck! I have never heard of this, its enough to make you gag, I have turned veggie recently, and to be honest after reading this I can see why, over here we had the horse meat scandal! yep, horse meat in food! I know in france they eat horse but we brits don't so it was horrible, never ever again!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 04, 2014:

Shyron - I've been watching news about the Texas primaries with interest and note that Democrat Wendy Davis will be in the gubernatorial runoff against Republican Greg Abbot. She's the first female candidate since Ann Richards, so that naturally made me think with nostalgia about the early '90s when I lived in the Dallas suburbs and helped elect Richards to the governor's office with my vote.

I got so nostalgic that I went to this website to read the transcript of that wonderful speech Ann Richards made at the Democratic National Convention when she brought the house down by saying George H.W. Bush was "...born with a silver foot in his mouth." Here's the site if you want to read the speech, because I found it is just as relevant now as it was back then:

The site also contains Molly Ivins' tribute to Ann Richards after Richards died of cancer. Now we've lost Ivins too, and those are both great losses--to Texas and to progressives.

However, it will be surprising if David wins the election because you know there are a lot of billionaires and millionaires in the state of Texas. You can be certain they will all gladly lend a hand and lots of money to Abbot's campaign chest to keep a "dreaded Dem" out of the governor's office, especially since she's not one of the "good ol' boys." There are a lot of non-wealthy and even poor Texans voting Republican because of polarizing issues, such as immigration, gay marriage, abortion rights, etc., which is, in effect, economically shooting themselves in the foot, which is the same way Republicans stay in office where I now live, Mississippi (poorest state in the USA), by appealing to voters on those issues. As long as Texas remains a red state and, with Ted Cruz taking a campaign leadership position, that's probable, there isn't much hope of your Congressional reps paying any attention to you unless you become very, very wealthy.

Sorry for letting this reply turn into a rant. I don't have the late Ann Richards' style, more's the pity.


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 04, 2014:

Thanks for the update on this. I really appreciate this.

I cannot get in touch with my congressmen they only represente the richest of the rich. We need new ones.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 04, 2014:

Thanks, Shyron - Since the FDA's deputy director is a former Monsanto attorney, I don't expect any food safety protection from that agency. However, there is a strong awareness growing among consumers that we have to look out for ourselves--no one "official" will do it for us. More and more people are opting for organics (which helps avoid GMOs as well as pesticide residue) and spreading the word via social networks.

The petition to get rid of "pink slime" worked because of ordinary people who were horrified to learn on Facebook and Twitter what was intended to be fed to school children and made up their minds to do something to stop it. And they did! That proves that anyone can be an activist. Great, isn't it? I've become a food safety activist in my senior years. I sign petitions, call my Congressional reps (two of whom ignore everything I have to say) and pass along pertinent messages to everyone in my email address book. We all can do that much, and some can do more.

Thanks for the re-read, votes and sharing. Jaye

P.S. By the way, a vegan lifestyle is a healthy one. Many veggies, nuts and seeds contain protein.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 04, 2014:

Jaye, I came back to read this again, it almost makes me want to become a vegan. I remember how fortunate we were as children when my grandfather would butcher his own beef and the hams hanging in the smokehouse.

But now the way some want to eleminate protection (i.e. food and drug).

This is a very important hub that everyone should read.

Voted up UAI and shared.


Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on October 27, 2013:

Thanks, Au fait and Shyron - I'll check on the Pinterest issue tomorrow night if I'm not too tired. Just finished writing and editing a 1200-word freelance assignment and have household chores to do before bedtime. I'm babysitting some of my great-grandchildren tomorrow, starting at 7am. I guess it all comes back to you--even a half century later. (I hope so.) Haha. Pray for me!


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on October 27, 2013:

I just invited you to join Pinterest, at and I will follow you there also. I hope the invitation comes through.


C E Clark from North Texas on October 27, 2013:

No, you don't have to be a member of Pinterest to have a Pinterest button available on your hubs. Most people will be pinning your hubs to their own boards or to a community board so for them to do that you need not be a member. I thought they were automatically on the comments page along with the FB button, etc. I never had to put one there, it was just there.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on October 27, 2013:

Thanks, Au fait. I've never thought about adding a Pinterest button. Do I have to be a member of Pinterest to do that? (Showing my ignorance here!)....Jaye

C E Clark from North Texas on October 27, 2013:

Came back to add a link in my own article on this subject only to discover I had already done that months ago! Was going to pin it, but note you have no Pinterest button available. Going to share this and voted it up and awesome!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on September 29, 2013:

Thanks, Shyron - My new greatgrandsons are doing fine. We hope the smaller twin will be released from the hospital in a few days, as he is gaining weight.

Greed is, indeed, at the root of many problems in the world today. Corporate greed practically runs this country, aided and abetted by the politicians whose campaigns those corporations fund with donations. It is gratifying that grassroots efforts are gaining so much attention and activism from ordinary citizens because we can make a difference if we don't stop signing petitions and voting politicians out of office when they don't do what is right.

As for the FDA, that agency once kept its mandate to look out for the American consumer. Unfortunately, having a former Monsanto attorney and employee at the helm is something like having a fox guard the hen house. It was not surprising when the FDA ignored independent studies showing that Monsanto's GMOs are harmful and continues to approve them...even unlabeled. The FDA is looking out for Monsanto's interests, not the safety of the American food supply.

I don't think the FDA should be dismantled, but I do believe there should be a "house-cleaning" of that agency to get rid of every official and employee who is there for no other purpose than to look after the interests of a greedy corporation rather than the wellbeing of Americans. Anyone who works for either the FDA or the USDA should be vetted as seriously as a potential Supreme Court judge or member of the president's cabinet because they can either do a lot of good...or a lot of harm.


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 29, 2013:


I hope your gread grandsons are well.

This hub about pink slime, just goes to show how greedy some people are, and just think there are some who would have the FDA eliminated.

voted up interesting and shared.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on May 19, 2013:

Vertualit--Thanks for reading and for your feedback. Jaye

Entourage 007--You're very wise in your shopping/eating practices. Factory-farmed meat is not good for humans or for the environment. More and more people are either rethinking vegetarianism--either completely or eschewing animal products two or three times a week. It all helps. If this trend grows, factory farm conglomerates may be forced to do correct their unsafe practices. I keep hoping Congress will force change upon them, but that's probably too much to hope for these days.

Thanks for reading and for your comments. Jaye

Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA on May 19, 2013:

I no longer shop at places that have unsafe meat practices such as hormones and pink slime. I can't believe that pink slime was ever allowed to be used in our meat in the first place. Great hub! I also find that I am a little bit more of a vegetarian these days because of how the meat industry leaves me more and more skeptical each year.

Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on May 19, 2013:

Great hub. Thanks for this topic

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on May 19, 2013:

Sgbrown---You are wise to use safer alternative meat sources than the meat department in your local supermarket. Too many people who are not aware of the dangers lurking in the meat case are feeding their families food that can cause serious illness and developmental problems in children. The lack of ethics shown by both the FDA and USDA with regard to these issues infuriates me, as it's clear that lobby $$$ and officials in those agencies who formerly worked for the very big businesses whose "bottom line" is putting consumers in danger are to blame.

I'm currently researching and preparing to write articles exposing other food safety issues and the FDA's failure to act in the interest of consumers. I've become a food activist in my later years and sign many petitions, call my state's senators and representatives about these issues and relevant legislation (though that's clearly a waste of time with these bozos). Though I realize my efforts are only a drop in the bucket, I'm aware there is a growing grassroots movement across the nation by concerned citizens who are tired of being ignored. With our voices speaking loudly and together, perhaps the government will take notice!

Thanks for reading and your comments.


Vandynegl---Good for you for boycotting the dangerous meats in the supermarket. You're right--factory-farmed meats and imported seafood are toxic for your family, and there are safer alternatives (including vegetarianism if you decide to go that route). I'll check out your hub about school lunches. Thanks for telling me about it. I hope you will also read my upcoming hubs (I'm planning to publish them within the next week, if possible) about two other food safety issues.

Thanks for reading and for your comments.


vandynegl from Ohio Valley on May 19, 2013:

Very good information! Thank you for writing this! It is good to know that other people are becoming aware of the crap that is their food! I wrote a hub on school lunches because they still irk me! I have boycotted all store bought meat because I just can't trust it enough to feed my family.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on May 19, 2013:

It's all about the "almighty dollar", this is such a shame. It's too bad that we can't trust our government to assure quality foods are getting to our children in school lunches. Things like this is why I am so grateful that my huband is a hunter and I cook mainly venison. I use venison in place of ground beef 99% of the time. I am going to get to know the butcher at our local meat market now and start using him for my steak, chicken and pork as well. I should have probably been doing this all along anyway. I have heard of the "pink slime" issue previously, but you have a very comprehensive and information hub here, thank you! Voting this up, useful, interesting and sharing! :)

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on May 18, 2013:

Thanks so much, Au fait...I appreciate the feedback, vote, sharing and link from your hub.


C E Clark from North Texas on May 18, 2013:

This is a very impressive article and I have placed a link to it in a prominent sidebar location in my hub, "Pink Slime Turns Dog Food Into People Food."

In addition, voted up, useful, awesome, and will share!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on May 11, 2013:

Hi, Gerry--Both the FDA and USDA are so corrupt that they're worse than useless to consumers--they're dangerous! Just the mention of those agencies gets me on my soapbox, and I never miss an opportunity to warn American citizens they can't be trusted.

Thanks for reading and for your insightful comments.


sligobay from east of the equator on May 11, 2013:

Hello JayeWisdom. This is a comprehensive and perceptive article about food politics. Monsanto has a practice of installing their former employees and advocates into key government positions at the FDA to undermine the safety of our food supply. The Department of Agriculture is likewise infiltrated. Great effort on your part to expose the government and corporate collusion. Bravo.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 22, 2013:

Thanks for your feedback, vickiw. You are lucky that Canada has better safeguards against this type of additive. The USA's Food & Drug Administration is essentially a corrupt agency. (It's top director is a former Monsanto attorney, so it's obvious where his loyalties lie, and they're not with the consumer!) The safety of our food supply is suspect, so we have to be vigilant to protect ourselves.

Thanks for reading. Jaye

Vickiw on February 22, 2013:

This was such an informative and well-written, well-researched article. I have read about this awful stuff before, but didn't realise there is actually no defence against its introduction to foods. Yuck!

My understanding is that it is just plain outlawed in Canada.

I only buy meat from our little neighbourhood store, and I choose a beef cut, then they grind it for me. Great Hub, voted up and I.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 11, 2013:

4FoodSafety...Thank you so much for your comments and for your commitment to a safe food supply. With those of us who do care about this issue working together (and the number is growing), we can force the stores and the government to make changes. Sharing this info via social media is a big step in the right direction. Your work toward this effort is appreciated!


Kelly Kline Burnett from Fontana, WI on February 11, 2013:

Our family no longer buys meat from any big box store because of the lack of labeling. We have always promoted local stores but now we actively boycott meat which is a large portion of our monthly spending. I just visited the local butcher shop and spend $80. We have to stop this downgrading of food. For the government to choose not to disclose is unethical. Their job is to serve and report. Shame on any one camouflaging this process - consumers deserve to know.

Great information - must be reported over and over again. I enjoyed your reference to the social media. We can make a difference.

Voted up!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on November 18, 2012:

Thanks for your comments, Deborah....I fully believe in the "power of the petition" and the use of social media to garner support for grassroots efforts. I'm particularly concerned about the safety (rather, the "un-safety") of food allowed in U.S. stores. I no longer have any confidence in either the FDA or the USDA to protect American consumers, since they appear to be more interested in protecting the interests of Agribusiness (and, in the case of the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry).

I believe it will take a concentrated grassroots effort by American consumers to improve the safety and transparency (accurate labeling) of our food supply. We cannot depend on the government to do it without great enough demand from the people. I think major boycotts might help, as well, but the poor economy coupled with high food costs hamper that method.

For example, I'll do without many things rather than spend a single cent at WalMart, but most people with children at home look for bargains rather than the origin or content of foods sold at that store.

When you consider how the beef industry went after Oprah Winfrey after she made a simple statement about never eating another hamburger on her TV show, it doesn't surprise me that Bettina Siegal became their target. I like her blog and salute her efforts to educate parents about food issues, including how the pending farm bill may affect the poor and the public school lunch program.

I found you on and look forward to reading some of the articles you've published there as food health examiner for Cedar Rapids.

Thanks for reading....Jaye

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on November 18, 2012:

Great article, Jaye. Not sure how I missed it before. I wrote a lot about pink slime for my Healthy Food Examiner title on Although I've never met Bettina Siegel, I've read her blog,The Lunch Tray, for quite some time now and we've corresponded a bit over pink slime and other food-related issues. It was amazing all the heat she took from beef industry people over her petition but she did a wonderful thing by raising awareness of the issue. As a direct result of her petition, the USDA gave schools a choice on serving pink slime. Most said no thanks.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on October 09, 2012:

Millionaire Tips....Thanks for reading and commenting. Believe me, I understand your disgust. With the FDA and USDA allowing Big Agribusiness companies to get by with almost anything, the only truly safe meat product is organic. I know it costs more to purchase grass-fed beef and range-free organic chicken, but when you consider that factory-farmed animals are fed GMO feed, pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormone--not to mention the inhumane treatment they suffer during their brief lives--it's better (in my opinion) for people who eat meat to eat less of it and choose the safe variety. Just my opinion, but I offer it freely!


Shasta Matova from USA on October 09, 2012:

Thank you for this great overview and explanation of pink slime. It really disgusts me, because when I think of ground beef, I expect the same beef as I can buy whole, except ground for convenience. I figured that they probably added some extra fat in there because I wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but adding all the other stuff that I know I don't want, that's just crazy.

Now that they have started adding "saline solution" to chicken, I hope it is only salt and water they are adding to make the chicken heavier since I am paying by the pound. I would rather not have the extra salt in my chicken.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on August 07, 2012:

Thanks, ignugent, for your comments. You're so right that eating healthy with more fruits and vegetables is the best plan! Jaye

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on August 07, 2012:

Hi, Brett....Thanks for reading, for your comments, votes and sharing. The lack of safety in our food supply is scary, and, in the case of the U.S., our government won't protect us because the agencies that are sworn to do so are in league with big business. The only hope for consumers is awareness, vigilance and refusing to spend money on known unsafe food products.


ignugent17 on August 07, 2012:

Full of information and we are lucky here that we are living in the country. We have a good meat shop and we are not worried of pink slime. Eat Healthy more fruits and vegetables is good. This is very useful thanks.

Brett C from Asia on August 07, 2012:

I actually hadn't heard of pink slime, but then I haven't spent much time in the west for a while. In some ways, I think the meat over here is better, as it is normally direct from the animal that day. However, in unregulated countries, I dread to think what goes into the mince. Even steaks are faked nowadays with meat glue ... scary!

Shared with followers and twitter, up and interesting.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 22, 2012:

Curiad...You're so right--their actions are criminal, but they're allowed to continue them. The only recourse consumers have is to be very, very careful about the food they buy. When you can't trust labels to have all the information you need to make an informed purchase, buying from local producers you trust is best. I shop at the booths of several organic farmers at my local farmers market and from an online source I trust. I buy very little FOOD at the supermarket--mostly paper and cleaning products. What little I do buy is clearly marked "Organic - USDA Certified" because there are still some fairly stringent guidelines producers must follow to gain certification. Who knows how long that will last?

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Curiad on July 21, 2012:

Jaye, this is an exceptionally well written article and I commend you for it. People like this "David Terry" should be fed to the sharks.

It is absolutely criminal what the corporations and the Government ar perpetrating on the public.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 20, 2012:

Thanks for reading, Deborah, for your comment and for sharing. It's up to consumers to look out for our own welfare, especially where the food supply is concerned. The government agencies in the U.S. (FDA and USDA) do NOT look after the well-being of citizens, but, rather the interests of the pharmaceutical and agribusiness industries. Sad, but true.


Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on July 20, 2012:

I am so glad I read this.. I have heard of this but never read the whole thing.. thank you I am sharing with the world...


Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 17, 2012:

Thanks, molometer....It's a crying shame a country the size of the U.S. has such an unsafe food supply. In addition to Pink Slime, we have to worry about the dangers of BPA in containers, GMO foods, tainted seafood imported from Asia, etc.--all with exactly NO help from the FDA or USDA, agencies that are supposed to ensure the food supply is safe. I can't think about it without becoming angry. My family and friends started jokingly referring to me as the Food Police, but if people don't pay attention to these problems, they will not be resolved.

From what I've read, the UK doesn't import nearly as many food products as the U.S., which is good, but Monsanto is trying to take over the entire world's seed supply with their patented GMO seeds. They're trying to put small organic farmers out of business, and in many cases, succeeding. If consumers don't stay alert to what's happening, we could wake up one day and not be able to find organic food anywhere, and no one knows the long-term effect of GMO foods on humans. (They were only tested for DAYS on rats!) Since part of their molecular makeup is resistant to Roundup weedkiller (also made by Monsanto and which anyone who uses GMO seeds is forced to use in tandem), who knows what that mutation will cause when ingested by people, especially growing children? These problems are causing more and more people to grow their own veggie gardens--a positive trend.

Okay....I'll climb down off my soapbox for now!

Thanks for stopping by....Jaye

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 17, 2012:

Hello Jayewisdom,

I too saw the Jamie Oliver show on this pink slime. How it got into our food supply is shocking beyond belief.

Anything for a quick buck I guess. Where were the regulators? Seems to many people in the wrong jobs, looking after their own pockets.

How many more of these scandals will we hear this year.

Great hub and well researched.

Voted up interesting and useful sharing.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 11, 2012:

Thanks for your comments, Becky. It is a disgrace that our food supply in the U.S. is not safe, and even the FDA and USDA don't really protect us. Pink Slime is only the tip of the iceberg.

I just read yesterday that the World Trade Organization refuses to comply to the U.S. request that imported foods (or any imported products) be labeled with place of origin, which is like a slap in the face to American consumers.

With Monsanto trying to take over the world with their dangerous GMO seeds, I no longer feel safe eating any food that is not organic, preferably bought from local organic farmers or trusted online producers.

We must be hyper-alert to the dangers that can be found on every aisle of our supermarkets. Reading labels with a magnifying glass to catch the "fine print" is not only recommended, but critical these days. Soon, the WTO ruling will make those "Product of China" and other import source labels a thing of the past.

Becky Bruce from San Diego, CA on July 11, 2012:

Pink slime is the worst!!!! Not even McDonalds has pink slime for meat anymore and many of our grocery stores are still carrying it! The stuff they put in our food... it really freaks me out!!! We don't even know it is half the time until something or someone exposes it. Thanks for the great hub!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 22, 2012:

Thanks, Joy, for reading, for the UP vote and for your kind comments. Sorry the subject matter made you feel ill soon after eating. (Perhaps I should put a warning at the beginning: DO NOT READ IMMEDIATELY AFTER DINNER.) Ha! I can understand your reaction, however, since I felt a little bilious myself while researching Pink Slime. The thought of schoolkids eating that stuff really makes me sick!


Joy on April 22, 2012:

Great article! I am so thankful that we have caring individuals like you to look after us. You should be paid for researching, you do a fabulous job. Since I just ate, and then read your article, I am not feeling well! But I will keep reading anything you write, just not too soon after I eat. +++ups

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 22, 2012:

In my most recent comment, replying to lambservant, I listed as a website providing information about unsafe foods. I wish to withdraw that recommendation, as I've re-checked it and find it not to be solely geared toward providing information for consumers. I don't wish to recommend any website with any possible ties to the food industry. Sorry for the mis-step!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 22, 2012:

Thanks for reading my hub and for your very nice comment. The safety of our food supply is an important topic to me. In fact, I can get downright emotional about the failure of the USDA and FDA to ensure its safety, not to mention their collusion with agribusiness conglomerates to infiltrate the food supply with unsafe products. That is, in my opinion, criminal on the part of those agencies, and I no longer trust either one in the slightest.

Unfortunately, consumers must watch out for their own safety by reading labels carefully and searching out information about unsafe foods on websites devoted to providing it.

Several such websites include:, and (The latter is the website of the Center for Science in the Public.) If the government won't protect us and our families, we must do it ourselves.


Lori Colbo from United States on April 21, 2012:

Great hub content and excellently written. Thanks.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 21, 2012:

Thanks, Dr BJ....Yes, your grandmother was clever, and more people need to do the same thing these days to ensure they can avoid Pink Slime. I can remember how my own grandparents, who lived on a farm, produced all of their own food and gave the overflow to our family. Those were "the good old days" when family farms still existed and thrived other than as false illustrations in children's storybooks, but that was also back in a simpler time when the officials in charge of government agencies meant to protect us could be trusted.

There is much in our food supply today that is not healthy or even fit for human consumption. The trend toward people growing their own food is a step in the right direction, but we still need a "house cleaning" in the offices of the USDA and FDA! Consumers should be able to buy foods without worrying that they're feeding toxins to their families.

Thanks for reading and your comments. JAYE

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 21, 2012:

Unbelievable, Jaye, all this 'pink slime' business. Both disgusting and unhealthy. Thank you for your time and effort bringing all this information to your readers. My grandmother, years ago, used to grind round steak and other similar cuts of meat in a grinder that she turned by hand when she wanted to use hamburger in a recipe. I did not realize then how clever she was. Voted up!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 20, 2012:

To continue, as part of my response to David Terry was "chopped off" before the ending.

9. I’m glad you mentioned the properties of ammonia so I’ll get to add a few little tidbits of information about that ammonia process that is “supposed” to kill E. coli and salmonella pathogens. Gerald Zernstein said the ammonia fixes the color of the trimmings so they stay pink and BPI can call it “meat” and have it pass as “meat.” Otherwise, the product would be gray slime!

As for how much ammonia is left when it reaches the buyer, there was enough in 7,000 pounds of “LFTB” that Georgia state officials returned to BPI because it smelled so strongly of ammonia while it was still frozen they suspected it was contaminated with ammonia, and they didn’t know about the ammonia treatment process then!

After that incident, BPI lowered the PH levels of the Pink Slime product. When NYT journalist Michael Moss uncovered information about BPI and LFTB through Freedom of Information Act requests, the Times had independent tests run on LFTB samples. These tests showed a PH level lower than the PH level BPI says their research shows makes E. coli and salmonella undetectable. (Lower is NOT better. It means the product could still have detectible pathogens, though how anyone would know before getting sick is anybody’s guess since the USDA exempted it from testing!)

10. I’ve read reports of conflicting studies about the safety of grass-fed organic beef versus conventionally raised (factory farmed) beef. It’s important to me to know what entity is financing the study because industry-financed “studies” tend to be biased. I refer you to the website Eat Wild, which reports thoroughly on research published in reputable scientific journals. That research finds grass-fed beef safer than traditionally raised (factory farmed) beef cattle, including for an antibiotic-resistant Staph strain that the government does not test for at this time which is found in factory farmed beef. Here’s the URL:

By the way, your claim that BPI has a 0% (zero) incidence rate of pathogens is not true. Federal school officials tested BPI products and found E. coli O157:H7 in 2007 and stopped shipments before they got to schools. In another instance (July, 2009), federal school lunch officials temporarily banned LFTB from the BPI Kansas facility after linking it to salmonella. Just a month later, federal school officials found E. coli O157:H7 in BPI products again and halted shipments of the product. In fact, since 2005, E. coli has been found three times and salmonella 48 times in BPI ammonia-treated Pink Slime. So, it seems the process can’t be counted on to be effective!

As for children dying from E. coli, I remember the horrible Jack in the Box outbreak, and I ached then for the victims and their loved ones. It was very heartless of you to even ask me that question! If I can do anything to prevent contamination of the food supply and save lives, I will do it.

11. You said my article lacks factual information, but you’re wrong about that.

I stand by my research sources. My livelihood doesn’t depend on BPI’s continuing success—as yours does—and I’m not bought and paid for by BPI lobbying dollars, as many politicians and USDA officials are. My only motive is to put the truth about Pink Slime online for readers. I’m not spreading propaganda in an attempt at “damage control”, such as you are. I’m not dishing out deceit and lies like BPI spokespersons did at their March 30 Crisis Control press conference. I believe that when ordinary people have the opportunity to read verifiable truth in multiple places, most have the good sense to recognize it. I think they also recognize the frantic ramblings of a PR flack desperately trying to keep the truth from becoming known.

Anyone who wants to read the article “Five Ways the Pink Slime Industry is Buying Influence in the Government” can find it at

As “CatKinNY” responded to one of your comments on the Republic Reports website just a week ago, “Sorry, David, we’re not going to eat this crap, and no PR campaign will alter that. Instead of writing here, you should be working on your resume.”

I heartily agree.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 20, 2012:

This very long response is for David Terry, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at Beef Products Inc., the corporation that produces Pink Slime. David wrote a very long comment accusing my article of not being factual, and I reserve the right to show him it is.

Okay, David, I’m back to address your eleven points of disagreement with my article.

1. I’m not saying “LFTB” (as BPI prefers to call it rather than what it is—waste meat trimmings treated with ammonia gas) is not “beef”, but it’s beef waste trimmings that are inherently pathogenic due to being trimmed from the legs of beef cattle that live their lives up to their knees in cattle excrement. This is the reason BPI uses the ammonia treatment, which, by the way, has its problems…but more about that later. These waste trimmings are literally slaughterhouse scraps! Actually, I like Jon Stewart’s suggestion that consumers adopt the term “ammonia-soaked centrifuge separated by-product paste” instead of Pink Slime. At least, it’s accurate.

As for your calling the product “more lean”…sure, it’s more lean than it was when it started out before centrifugal force separated much of the fat from the connective tissue (muscle), but it’s not what most people who eat meat would likely think of as “lean meat” and prefer to have on their hamburger bun. Nutritional value? Don’t make me laugh! Do you get your nutrients from ammonia-treated beef waste trimmings that are primarily scrap connective tissue from cows? If so, I hope you’re taking a daily multi-vitamin! (Come on, David….tell us the truth. Do you really (knowingly) eat LFTB “meat?” Really and truly???

Since you didn’t mention the issue of safety in your plug for LFTB in #1, I’ll do so. Independent testing has shown that the “stuff” you’re defending so adamantly because of your job is not always protected from pathogens by the ammonia treatment. Safe? I don’t think so, and I have a lot of company in that opinion.

2. I did not use Wikipedia as a source for this article. In fact, I never use Wikipedia as a source for any article I write.

3. I hope you will notice that I did not claim Chef Jamie Oliver is an expert on food safety, nor did I recommend that anyone eat at his restaurants. I merely stated that he, like other persons in the media, focused attention on the existence of Pink Slime in school lunches, which is true.

I’ve discovered that eleven of Mr. Oliver’s restaurant branches in the UK were taken to task by health inspectors for non-hygienic kitchen practices. I also am aware that there were some isolated claims that food poisoning was contracted from one or more; however, those claims were not proven. That said, I don’t trust any restaurant to provide safe organic foods prepared on clean kitchen surfaces with special attention paid to preventing cross-contamination. That is why all of my own meals are cooked in my own kitchen by me. I can’t recall the last time I ate in a restaurant and have no plans to do so.

Oh yes…speaking of citations for safety violations, perhaps this is a good place to mention that Iowa state regulators fined BPI $1million and cited the company for 34 safety violations in August 2007 after the Waterloo, Iowa plant neglected to close off a pipe while new refrigeration equipment was being installed and pumped ammonia indoors, killing 44-year-old BPI employee, Elizabeth Meyers. That’s a bit more serious than a dirty can-opener, wouldn’t you agree?

For the record, I do not eat meat. Period. I’m not worried about Pink Slimed ground beef for my own sake because there’s no chance the stuff will ever cross my lips. However, I am concerned about the welfare of consumers who have no way of knowing the nasty waste product made from ammonia-treated slaughterhouse scraps is in their hamburger or taco. I particularly abhor it for the sake of children, whose digestive and immune systems are still developing and who are, therefore, more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses. The lack of labeling will allow stores and restaurants to falsely claim they aren’t selling it even if they really are, and consumers have no way to know the difference.

My concern, and the concern of the 250,000 people who signed Bettina Siegel’s petition on asking the USDA to stop purchasing LFTB for the school lunch program, as well as that of anyone else involved in getting the USDA to completely change its policies regarding this product, is the only concern consumers of beef products are likely to get, since they won’t get any from USDA officials or those who profit from BFI sales of Pink Slime. Money talks, and some people are willing to sell their souls for it.

4. You claim the New York Times article was retracted. Not so. One minor correction was printed several days after the article went to press—that, rather than the two 27,000-pound batches of BPI processed beef being recalled, the contamination of this meat was discovered by the company in its plant before the meat was shipped. Wasn’t that discovery lucky for BPI, David? Can you imagine the extent of food-borne illnesses 54,000 pounds of contaminated pink-slimed meat could have caused…particularly if much of it was consumed by vulnerable children? I’ll bet BPI’s Eldon Roth was thanking his lucky stars that day! That reprieve allowed BPI to continue making hundreds of millions of dollars off the sale of his slime concoction.

5. I don’t know why the First Lady chose not to comment if she was caught off guard by a reporter with a question about LFTB. She actively promotes feeding children healthily to prevent obesity and diabetes, so it’s my feeling she cares about any food safety issue with regard to children and school lunches. The wife of any serving President of the United States must be cautious when responding to press questions or giving statements. She probably decided not to comment until she could receive briefing about the matter from White House advisors. A wise decision.

6. Carl Custer and Gerald Zernstein were both scientists at the USDA when Roth initiated his ammonia-treated waste meat trimmings process, and they were both vocal in their disapproval of what Custer called “not an additive…an adulterant” and both microbiologists considered “high risk”, deploring its addition to the national school lunch program. In an email he wrote in 2001, Zernstein stated, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”

Of course, the USDA didn’t listen to their scientists’ advice, and officials there don’t like “whistle-blowers”, but perhaps both Custer and Zernstein aren’t at USDA any more because they became sickened at the corruption rife in that agency and just couldn’t take it any more. I’m glad they were brave enough to speak out to the media (and there’s no proof they received any compensation for doing so. Sometimes people tell the truth for no other reason than it’s the moral thing to do, David.)

7. ABC World News reported that former Undersecretary of Agriculture Smith made “…at least $1.2million over 17 years….” after leaving her government job and signing on as a member of the Board of Directors for one of BPI’s principal suppliers. ABC News has a coterie of attorneys vetting the information they report on-air, and I’m comfortable the figure they provided is correct.

8. I don’t see how you can claim that LFTB does not contain meat byproducts when it is made from slaughterhouse scraps! It’s little more than connective tissue with the fat spun out! This stuff was once only used in dog food and to make oils. There were so many recalls of contaminated dog food that I’m not the only person who now cooks her dog’s food from human-grade organic ingredients. Many pet-owners don’t trust commercial dog foods any more. Why should consumers want this stuff in their children’s school lunches or for meals in their homes? As for the USDA approving Pink Slime for human consumption, that agency is so corrupt that nothing unethical they do surprises me. Disgusts me, but doesn’t surprise me.

9. I’m glad you mentioned the properties

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 20, 2012:

Hello, David Terry. I was wondering if you would show up in response to my article, and it's no surprise to me that you did.

Before I respond to your 11 points, which I will only have time to do later today--so check back then--let me say I know you work for a BPI company.

I read your comments on Republic Report’s April 10 online article, “Five Ways the Pink Slime Industry is Buying Influence in Government.” In one of those comments you admitted you work for BPI (after another reader pointed out that the information is on your Facebook page) and expressed loyalty to your employer, which would naturally be expected.

I must say, your comments about my article seem a bit more harsh and sarcastic than your responses to the Republic Report article and to the comments of its other readers just over a week ago. Your stress level must be increasing as you continue to seek out articles about your company’s LFTB (as BPI prefers to call it) product and try to undermine them and protect your job. Maybe you should try deep breathing exercises for stress reduction. Too much stress is another thing that isn’t good for one’s health.

As stated, I will respond to each of your points in turn, but other commitments demand my time for several hours. I will post my responses before today ends, so please return and read them. I defend your right to your opinions and to state them. As long as comments aren't malicious, I welcome them. Until later....JayeWisdom

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 20, 2012:

HYPENBIRD...Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. The irony of my writing this article is that I don't eat meat! Even the smell of a burger has for years made me feel ill.

I'm so infuriated by factory farming conglomerates, their greed-motivated practices that are cruel to animals and harmful to consumers, as well as the government's abject failure to protect the food supply, that I felt moved to take advantage of the media attention the Pink Slime Scandal caused and climb up on my soapbox.

I applaud you for being a vegetarian and, especially, for growing your own produce. Your dislike of grocery stores mirrors my own. I estimate that at least 90% (if not more) of the merchandise sold in supermarkets is harmful in varying degrees to the health of consumers, and I support local organic farmers. I wish I were physically able to garden, as it must be lovely to walk outdoors and pick fresh healthy veggies with marvelous taste!

JENUBOUKA...You're right that the only sure way for people who eat meat to ensure they don't get Pink Slimed ground meat is to watch a butcher grind pure beef. Like you, I don't trust the lip service given by some restaurants and stores to not serve the public harmful products. Consumers must watch out for themselves since there is no system in place that will truly watch out for us! Thanks for reading and for your comments.


David Terry on April 20, 2012:

1. So, you are saying LFTB is not beef? Even though it is more lean and has higher nutritional value.

2. Wikipedia is "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" and cannot be used as a source for scientific information due to highly biased pages.

3. Jamie Oliver's 11 restaurants are under investigation for E. coli outbreaks and food safety violations, better check your source. LOL @ Jamie Oliver.

4. The New York Times article was retracted saying the information previously published was false and BPI has never been linked to a foodborne illness or recall.

5. The First Lady, a healthy-food advocate, did not comment when asked for support on removal of LFTB.

6. There are no links to the study performed by microbiologists and former USDA scientists Carl Custer and Gerald Zernstein. Was this a study done by two men who attempted to pursue personal monetary gain from the beef industry as USDA employees? Gerald Zernstein doesn't work for the USDA, what happened?

7. Undersecretary made an average of $70k/yr working for BPI. I would think she could have made more elsewhere, and likely did make more while in the position of undersecretary.

8. LFTB does not contain meat derived from meat byproducts. Was this not a significant difference between dog food and human food when approved by the USDA for human consumption?

9. Ammonia boils at -70F, kept around 40F at the grocer, and cooked to 165F so how much ammonia is left?

10. Grass-fed and conventional-fed beef have the same incidence of pathogens, 44% according to a study performed in 2008, but BPI has a 0% (zero) incidence rate. Have you ever held a child dying from hemolytic uremic syndrome caused by E. coli? What would you tell the mothers who have?

11. This article lacks factual information, but is amusing and entertaining. Maybe news and journalist should stick to bravo and E! for their false reporting, or label their articles as "Tabloid".

jenubouka on April 20, 2012:

Incredible facts and just darn frustrating how the beef industry ever though to do this in the first place, cheap and greedy for sure. There are some store/restaurants that do still use this, the consumer safest bet is to ask the store meat guy to grind up some whole roast or sirloin.

The fast food joints "claim" they have omitted it, buy for a multimillion dollar industry dupe us in the first place, I say never eat there again. Remember the tumored chicken breast!

Great article, awesome info for those needing to understand what is pink slime.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on April 20, 2012:

Every day, I am more thrilled to be a vegetarian. Even our fruits and vegetables are treated with killing chemicals. Unless we control our own food supply, we are victims of the government and mass produced contaminants. I have a garden this year and wish I could live without ever entering a grocery store.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 19, 2012:

Thanks for your insightful comments, Linda. The USDA, under intense pressure because of the petitions, announced it will give schools the option next year to purchase beef either with OR without the Pink Slime filler. School districts still have to work within the USDA's reimbursement program or pay for food out of pocket. This may make change difficult for less affluent districts, of which there are many. The fact that the USDA will continue to make Pink Slime meat available to schools is not a good sign.

The last three weeks in the saga of SlimeGate definitely focused attention on a single problem of our food supply--and there are many--which is not only allowed, but supported by the USDA. There is now a bill in Congress that will require labeling of ammonia-treated beef if it is passed, but the beef industry doesn't allow such threats to their profits to go unchallenged. No doubt the industry's lobbyists are out full force within those hallowed halls.

Remember how the beef industry sued Oprah when she said on-air that she wouldn't eat a hamburger after learning about factory farms? (And that was before we even knew about Pink Slime! Imagine how she would react to it!)

We'll have to wait and see what happens to the pending legislation. Labeling the stuff would be a good first step. At least people could be sure what they are getting...that is, once all of the unlabeled Pink Slime meat is out of the food supply (and who knows how long that will take).

Meanwhile, some large school districts, such as Boston and New York, have already stopped using their supplies of PS meat. Some other districts are trying to locate non-PS meat, but are having trouble finding meat without the filler because, "...the stuff (with it) is so prevalent."

Kroger, Safeway and Stop & Shop SAID they will not sell it, and I think Safeway has a pretty good reputation. Kroger, however, is often quick to announce to the media they will or will not do something to please consumers, but I'm not convinced of their follow-through.

Last year Kroger announced it was (at that time) working with its vendors to change the packaging of all Kroger brands to non-BPA materials. I called Kroger's corporate headquarters when researching that issue last month to ask for a timeline, even a tentative one, for the change-over. The representative to whom I spoke said, "There is no timeline," and admitted that months after their media announcement no actual change in Kroger brands packaging has taken place. She couldn't tell me anything about their plans, either. When I pressed her, she would only say she didn't know anything else, nor would she direct me to someone who did. That incident hurt Kroger's credibility with me. Since Pink Slime is not labeled, store managers can claim they aren't selling it to get positive publicity when, in fact, they are. Am I cynical? Maybe so, but the greed evidenced in the marketplace predisposes me to cynicism.

You deplore, as I do, the fact that families who can't afford a more expensive grade of meat won't be protected from cheaper (and unsafe) ground meat. The quandry they face echoes the USDA decision to allow a Pink Slime/No Pink Slime choice for schools. Better-funded districts that can afford it will provide the safer alternative for their students, while lesser-funded districts (and some in my city fit that description) will have to opt for the lower-priced Pink Slimed beef in order to provide school lunches.

Families with lower incomes will face the same problem as the lower-funded schools, and they cannot count on the USDA to protect their families from dangerous beef. This situation will create a system of "haves" and "have nots." America has long been vocal about not having a class system, when the truth is we do have a class system that is based on wealth or the lack of it.

Funding, however, may not be the only issue at play with regard to eradicating Pink Slime from the food supply available to school districts. The USDA's current lack of labeling requirements for this product makes me wonder if even that agency can (or will) identify the PS-laced meat already warehoused. In addition, districts that have already placed their food supply orders for the next school year may not be able to make the switch. There is still some uncertainty about how efficiently or quickly a phasing out of this unpalatable, unsafe beef product can be effected.

It's my hunch the powers-that-be at the USDA are hoping the hue and cry will die down and let them return to their usual practices. It's up to citizens to continue making our opinions heard without let-up until we get action from the government. The groundswell of activism we've witnessed and taken part in must increase until Congress realizes the people they're sworn to protect are not willing to put up with an unsafe food supply. I know you will do your part toward that result.

MPG: Thanks for reading and for your feedback. You're right that the food industry has a lot to answer for, and I'll add to that "So does the USDA." We must keep the pressure steady in an effort to force positive change.


Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on April 19, 2012:

Good on you jayewisdom for even further exposing the "pink slime" additive to meat. The food industry has a lot to answer for and all these shonky habits should be exposed. Good hub and voted up.

Linda Lander on April 19, 2012:

I'm a bit confused because I thought the federal school lunch program had decided schools would no longer use meat with "pink slime" and that most (not all) super markets who sold meat with "pink slime" had taken it out of their stores. So what did I miss? Also, a point that bothers me is that families who can afford to buy better grades of ground meat can buy ground steak or some other kind of ground meat rather than cheap hambuger meat. But what about the families who can't afford a more expensive grade? Is it fair for only the higher income families to be protected from unsafe, unhealthy ground meat? This bothers me a lot and I would like to see more written about this aspect of the issue.

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