According to Mother Jones, the USDA plans to continue purchasing millions of pounds of Pink Slime to be used in the National School Lunch Program even as fast food chains such as Taco Bell and Burger King have dropped it. McDonalds said last month it would stop using the burger extender.
Pink Slime is the nickname for scraps of slaughtered cow meat that have been pulverized, defatted and steamed with ammonia to kill pathogens and then turned into a filer for ground beef.
Beef Products International markets the pink slime to fast-food chains, beef processors and school cafeteria directors as a way to remedy the problem of beef contaminated with pathogens. The company claimed the product had enough ammonia that, when it was mixed with ground beef, it would thoroughly sterilize the resulting blend of meat.
However, when the National School Lunch Program conducted tests on Pink Slime from 2005 to 2009 it tested positive for the pathogen salmonella at a rate four times higher than the conventional burger mix it was supposed to sterilize, according to a 2009 New York Times article.
Despite the positive tests, the USDA continued to purchase large amounts of the filler because “school lunch officials said they ultimately agreed to use the treated meat because it shaved about 3 cents off the cost of making a pound of ground beef,” the Times reported.
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