I wrote a Daily Kos diary on January 2, 2010 titled, "Yummy! Ammonia-treated pink slime now in most U.S. ground beef" based on that groundbreaking New York Times story, somewhat innocuously titled "Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned."
That diary made the top of the Rec List here, but more interestingly, was reposted on -- at one point -- nearly 3/4 of a million web sites around the world. It no doubt will be the most widely read thing I'll ever write -- a quick and outraged knock-off of another reporter's story. Oh well, not exactly a reporter's dream achievement, but I'll take it.
But despite The New York Times, and despite alternative sites all over the Internet, it took somebody on TV to make this story hot enough to make real change.
Late last year, the major fast food chains quietly announced they wouldn't use the ammonia-treated beef any more.
When I found out in January, I posted on Facebook: "Now to get it out of the school lunch program's burgers!"
So thanks to Democratic Congresswomen from Maine, Chellie Pingree, who, according to The Hill today, has written a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsak urging not just "choice," but a ban on pink slime in school lunch burger patties:
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Pingree is urging the agency to abandon its plan to continue buying hamburgers and other meats containing the product—historically used in animal feeds—for the nation's schools.
"It is wrong to feed children a slurry that was formerly only used for dog food," Pingree wrote to Vilsack on Wednesday. "I hope you will do everything in your power to eliminate it from school lunch programs around the country."
If after all the kerfuffle, you still don't know the disgusting details of the ammonia / centrifuge treatment of slaughterhouse scraps, connective tissues and god knows what, to produce the cheap pink slime filler that was found in 70 percent of the so-called "ground beef" in this country, check the 2010 NY Times story
or Daily Kos diary
for the disgusting details.
Local elected school boards are pretty vulnerable to public pressure. If you don't know how to contact your local school board members, search for your local school's district: i.e.., "Elmtown school district" and you should find a web page that has information about the monthly school board meeting or at least contact information for the board or school superintendent, who is charged with reporting on all significant correspondence she gets from the public.
Wouldn't hurt to contact the Vilsack either, 202-720-3631 according to the USDA phone directory, and suggest that he might want to think about breaking contracts they've made for ground beef for next year's school lunches -- as they never should've been selling this stuff to unknowing school districts in the first place. I can't find email for Vilsack as secretary of ag, or for the school lunch program on the USDA site, but here's the info hotline: (202) 720-2791. I have to go to work, but if anybody finds an email address, please post it. thanks.