Just label it

Pink slime, that is

April 10, 2012

The problem with pink slime — also known by its less vivid industry title, Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) — just keeps getting bigger. Dubbed "Slimegate" by the blog Food Safety News, the story is a PR disaster for the beef industry, which keeps insisting its product is pure beef and therefore needs no extra labeling. Food Safety News’ Helena Bottemiller isn’t convinced:

So if LFTB contains added ammonia, is 100 times more alkaline, and has both a different texture and sometimes smell [from regular ground beef], why isn’t [ammonia] labeled as a component when it’s thawed and mixed in ground beef? Because both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have decided that ammonia is not an additive, but a processing aid.

Not sure how dangerous pink slime can be? Read the two New York Times reports by Michael Moss, from way back in 2009, on how ammonia still doesn't prevent people from getting sick.

On Grist, Tom Laskawy recently documented the feds’ blanket refusal to accede to popular demand for more accurate labeling on food. Over on Mother Jones, Tom Philpott has added to that list with his report on the feds’ defense of pink slime, along with a new jawdropper: “a proposed plan by the Obama administration to fire USDA inspectors and let the poultry industry inspect its own slaughterhouse lines — while simultaneously speeding up the kill line.”

In other words, no more external oversight by the USDA — of an industry that is already barely overseen to begin with. Philpott points out that the USDA could allow poultry processors to self-regulate as soon as October of this year.

What’s grosser than pink slime, grosser even than bipartisan posturing to save pink slime from overwhelming public rejection? An alleged watchdog agency that’s more intent on throwing bones to the meat industry than protecting the public’s health.

Irked by the proposed poultry privatization? Check out the Daily Kos petition against it.

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