The "Pink Slime" Controversy

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about lean finely textured beef. Editor Paul King is still on the fence, and wants to know what you think.

I recently returned from a cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Norwegian Jewel. One of the downsides of the cruise was that the Jewel is a Nickelodeon-themed ship. This, combined with the trip’s proximity to spring break for some school districts, meant there were lots of kids on this ship, and plenty of talk about kids getting “slimed.”

As the parent of grown children, I don’t have a lot of experience with Nickelodeon or its “slime.” Apparently kids love getting this green gook dumped all over them and their parents, for the most part are fine with it too. Whatever tickles your fancy, I guess.

Back in the office, and throughout the foodservice industry, much of the conversation—both before I left and since I’ve returned—has been about another kind of “slime,” otherwise known as lean finely textured beef or LFTB. This “slime” is pink, and most parents don’t want their children anywhere near it.

LFTB consists of the final bits of useful byproduct from cow carcasses. The mixture is heated, whirled in a centrifuge to extract the fat and treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill harmful bacteria. LTFB is added to ground beef as a filler, both to reduce cost and—ironically—to make the beef healthier by making the beef safer to eat and reducing the fat content.

Marion Nestle, the highly respected New York University professor who has authored several books and myriad articles on food safety and nutrition, recently made “pink slime” the topic of her "Food Matters" column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Her take? LFTB solves a couple of problems but creates a public relations nightmare.

Keywords: 
purchasing

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
pizza toppings

When the FoodService Director editors first started tossing around the idea of an “influencers” issue, our minds immediately turned to, well, foodservice directors. After all, so much of the learning in this industry is a peer-to-peer experience, and it’s your influence that inspires the content in every single issue of this magazine.

Then we imagined the massive infighting that would occur if we tried to whittle ourselves down to a list of just 20 influential operators and thought better of it. There’s already enough arguing for us to do about which pizza toppings are best (...

Ideas and Innovation
granola bars

Where possible, we make grab-and-go items reimbursable. For example, if we’re serving a fruit and milk smoothie, we let students take a granola bar or other grain component to make it count as a meal.

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

Ideas and Innovation
bolognese sauce

We’re trying to bring scratch cooking to all the elementary schools, but we’re taking it dish by dish. Right now, we satellite a lot of the dishes out. This month we made a Bolognese from scratch, and went to each of the schools to talk to them about the process and see if they could implement it. It helps us find out the hurdles and what they are going to need to make it work.

FSD Resources