Score one for our team! Announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, school districts that receive food through the government’s school lunch program will now be allowed to say no to pink slime. The ammonia-treated beef filler will not be the only meat choice for school lunches. Filler free meat will now also be an option.
This change was relatively quick. Pink slime has been used for nearly 20 years in our school’s meat and most processed meat products. Jamie Oliver exposed these truths to the nation over the summer during his Food Revolution show. Once the truth behind this product was discovered, a furious online campaign began among parents and concerned citizens. Quickly, large chain restaurants quit using the product and now our schools will get a better choice.
The USDA is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program this year and about 7 million pounds of that is from Beef Products Inc., which is a large producer of the low-cost filler. However, come next fall, school menus will be allowed to change to pink slime-free meat.
The Agriculture Department sets the national nutritional standards for school meals, yet districts make the decisions on what food to serve in order to meet the guidelines. Typically, districts in the National School Lunch Program buy about 20 percent of their food through USDA, with the remainder coming directly from local or private vendors.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., praised the Agriculture Department for the steps they are taking for the school meals. He did feel they should go further and require the additive to be listed as an ingredient on nutrition labels.
Menendez speaks for us all when it comes to pink slime in our kid’s lunches. “All it takes is a look at a picture of pink slime to understand parents’ concerns that this product doesn’t belong in our school lunchrooms.”
Well done, everyone. Way to speak up and be heard!