Thursday, March 29, 2012

Americans Reject Pink Slime Beef, But Six Politicians Still Push It

Taco Bell, McDonald's, and Burger King dumped beef with pink slime, Play Doh-look-alike filler last December after chef Jamie Oliver exposed the ammonia-treated goop on TV a few months earlier.

Safeway, Albertson's, Super-Valu, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Target, and other large grocery chains are dropping slime-filled ground beef in response to consumer demands. Walmart will offer consumers clearly labeled choices. 

Yet the USDA continues to stand by its "7 million-pound order of connective tissue and beef scraps doused in ammonia, set to hit school lunch trays in coming months" which it hilariously allows the meat industry to deceptively dub "lean, finely textured beef." 

Six politicians... five governors from farm states and the lobbyist-beholden head of the U.S. Agriculture Department... persist in urging Americans to ignore what Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad calls "an unwarranted, unmerited food scare."  The politicians pushing the pink-slime concoction that was previously reserved for dog food are:

  • Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas
  • Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa
  • Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas
  • Republican Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska
  • Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota
  • Democrat Tom Vilsack, former Iowa Governor and Obama's Agriculture Department Secretary
Not coincidentally, pink slime is manufactured by Beef Products Inc. (BPI)  in Texas, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.  BPI is headquartered in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. 

BPI owners Eldon and Regina Roth are big donors to Republican political candidates. In January 2011, the Washington Post reported about the Roths:
"On a single day in October, Eldon and Regina Roth each wrote separate checks to political funds set up by Republican Mitt Romney in five states around the country. That allowed the South Dakota beef barons to donate $190,000 - well beyond limits for contributions to federal political action committees."
What Is Pink Slime? Where Is It Found?
"Pink slime is is a food additive consisting of low quality spinal and rectal tissue material treated with ammonia gas to kill foodborne illness causing bacteria... The process of producing pink slime involves taking low quality beef trimmings, separating the fat and meat with heat in mixers and centrifuges, then squeezing it through a tube the size of a pencil. The product is exposed to ammonia gas in this process which turns into ammonium hydroxide when mixing with the water in the product.  (Source - Wikipedia)
For the past decade, about 70% of ground beef sold in U.S. grocery stores contained pink-slime filler. "A 2008 Washington Post article suggested the pink slime content of most beef patties containing the substance approaches 25%," per Wikipedia

Pink slime is soaked in ammonia in order to kill ever-present E.coli and salmonella bacteria, both which can cause illiness and death in humans.   

A 2009 New York Times investigation found, though,  that toxic bacteria in pink slime is not always eradicated by the ammonia gas: 
"... government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays."
Why Are Politicians Supporting Pink Slime Filler?
Americans have been surprised and horrified by headline-grabbing revelations about pink slime filler in ground beef... fillers not required by either the USDA or FDA to be clearly labeled for consumers to make informed purchases.

And retailers, reacting to consumer demands, have begun to back-away from selling products containing pink-slime filler.

This is how a capitalism-based market works: A product is found to be unacceptable or defective. Consumers reject the product, causing retailers to no longer sell the product. In the case of pink-slime beef filler, the market, aided by a free press, is working.

Why, then, are these politicians attempting to interfere with the free market by pressuring grocers to rescind their pink slime bans?

Why are they urging Americans rethink rejection of this disgusting fake food, despite the fact that "within the U.S.D.A., the treated beef has been a source of friction for years," per the Times?

Put simply, money, greed, and political donations and power, not about your family's health or safety.   And not about serving healthy lunches to millions of school children. 

For more, I strongly recommend that you read Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned, published on December 30, 2009 by the New York Times. 

No comments:

Post a Comment