Pink Slime is Back: Why do School Districts Continue to Serve Dreadful Byproduct?

It’s baaaack. Pink slime, an ammonia and beef byproduct that spurred one of the most talked about controversies in 2024, is being reintroduced to school lunches now that the media spotlight has dimmed. School districts in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are patiently waiting for their pink slime burgers to ship from the USDA, all to save mere pennies on the dollar.

pink patty

Shocking as that may sound, schools in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota never stopped serving the pseudo beef. Beef Product Incorporated is the company that makes and sells pink slime, formally known as “ammonia-treated lean finely textured beef,” or LFTB. In layman’s, LFTB is unwanted bits of cow mixed with ammonia and sent through a centrifuge—just like mom used to make. This process was invented by Beef Product Inc to help get the most possible product out of cows. Then, they sell it for cheap, hence the reason school districts bought it in the first place—to save money.

This all comes on the heels of new school lunch reform, a crusade started by the USDA to help fight childhood obesity and encourage healthier choices. If the USDA continues to sell what is essentially lab created food, they will be taking one step forward and two steps back. In January of 2024, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told Good Morning America, “The more we can reinforce the right set of choices and encourage the right set of choices, the greater the chances are that we will get a handle on obesity.” While pink slime is lean, and therefore less caloric than your average patty, it certainly doesn’t “reinforce the right set of choices” for our children.

The pink slime has oozed back into our school cafeterias after a year of bad press, backlash, and outcries from parents everywhere. Maybe that means protest blogs and national petitions aren’t going to work—after all, they didn’t last time. One way to fight back the slime is to tell your children what exactly their beef patty is made of, and ask them if that’s something they’re okay with eating. Speaking directly with school officials and cafeteria managers is another way to cut right to the source. It’s been well-documented, but our children are obese in epidemic proportions, and too many positive strides have been made to be stuck in the proverbial slime.

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