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

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources