USDA Purchases 7 Million Pounds of “Pink Slime” to Serve in Schools

GROSS! This is what "pink slime" looks like before it's added to meat

Pink slime for lunch, anyone?

Popular fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell recently stopped using the controversial ground beef additive known as “pink slime” in their recipes, however, that didn’t stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from buying over 7 million pounds of the stuff for school meals.

Officially branded as “Lean Beef Trimmings,” the product is basically a disgusting mixture of beef scraps, cow connective tissues and other spare beef trimmings that have been treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli to make the meat safe and at least somewhat appetizing.

The pinkish substance — normally used for dog food — is then blended into traditional meat products like ground beef and hamburger patties as a sort-of “filler.”

Pretty gross, right?

Two former microbiologists at the Food Safety Inspection Service think so too.

“I have a 2-year-old son,” microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein told The Daily. “And you better believe I don’t want him eating pink slime when he starts going to school.”

Zirnstein was the first person to call the meat stuff “pink slime” after he toured a Beef Products Inc. production facility as part of an investigation into salmonella contamination in packaged ground beef. After the visit he said in an e-mail to his colleagues that he didn’t “consider the stuff to be ground beef.”

“We originally called it soylent pink,” said retired microbiologist Carl Custer, a 35-year veteran of the Food Safety Inspection Service. “We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”

Custer says he first came across the pink slime back in the 1990s, and despite him voicing his concern about the gross stuff, it was officially approved under the George H.W. Bush administration.

Custer and Zirnstein both concluded in a study that the meat trimmings were a “high risk product,” however, “scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein said.

“My objection with having it in the schools is that it’s not meat,” Custer said. “It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger, plus it’s treated with ammonia, an additive that is not declared anywhere,” he said in reference to the lack of labeling on the product’s packaging.

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

The New York Times reported back in 2009 that despite the added ammonia, tests of “Lean Beef Trimmings” from schools nationwide uncovered dozens of instances of E. coli and salmonella pathogens.

Between the years of 2005 and 2009, salmonella was found 48 times, including two contaminated batches of 27,000 pounds of meat. E. coli was found three times.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver pictured here demonstrating the ammonia-treated beef process.

A public outcry against the meat filler is being led most prominently by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who in the past has successfully waged war against flavored milk in L.A. school, and continues to fight for healthier school lunches.

News of the USDA buying 7 million pounds of “pink slime” to serve in school cafeterias across the country comes just weeks after the government outlined new guidelines to make sure students are given healthier options for school meals.

The new standards call for a wider selection of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as less sodium and fat in school meals.

What do you think about pink slime?
Do you want your kids eating this stuff at school?

  • LIE number54

  • Kerry_two


  • The article fails to mention the same ingredients (connective tissue, snouts, intestines, etc) are found in bologna, hot dogs, sausage, and other American favorites. Mr. Oliver, WE DONT CARE as long as it tastes good. More for me! 

    • no no no

      the difference being that bologna, etc, are not generally served in most school cafeterias. at my son’s school, they have hot dogs very rarely and i have looked into it, they only serve turkey dogs. and turkey dogs don’t contain the pink slime. point being, we usually have a choice to decide whether we want to go to the store and buy hot dogs or bologna to eat for ourselves. our kids aren’t given that much of an option at school when it comes to the beef products. i’d like you to introduce me to a child, who isn’t already a vegetarian or vegan, that would turn down a cheeseburger from the cafeteria line for something healthier, provided the school even offers a secondary choice each lunch period. they usually don’t, not in elementary through middle schools anyway. it’s usually the high school cafeterias that offer at least one other option. so our kids aren’t really getting the choice and we, as parents, are forced to either allow our kids to keep eating this crap, or spend incredible amounts more to supply them with bag lunches. something that’s genuinely not an option for as many families as you might thing. bag lunches get really expensive.

  • catalinda8

    One more reason to be a vegetarian!

  • this is gross

    Is this the same stuff that caused mad cow disease?

  • Tasha

    humans eat animals, this ‘pink slime’ is made of animal, stop being such pussys and get over it. food is food, if its good enough for lions/cats/dogs/any other carnivore it is edible and nutritious even if it doesnt look or sound pretty. people need to stop being so snobby and get munching, though i dont approve of the salmonella and e.coli. thats found in all types of badly treated meat though, its nothing to do with the cut.

    • Tasha

       whoa, proof i was hammered last night whats wrong with me? :|