Parents Grossed Out by Ammonia-Treated Goo
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NEW YORK CITY -- The much-derided “pink slime” meat byproduct substance used in ground beef will be phased out of New York City school lunch by next September, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Wednesday.
Parents and food advocacy groups across the city, including the Brooklyn Food Coalition, have been demanding that the disgusting pink goo made from ammonia treated meat byproducts be removed from the city’s school cafeteria lunches.
A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture decision now allows schools buying food for government-subsidized school lunch programs to purchase non-ammonia treated beef, starting in the fall of 2012.
“We spoke to the USDA and urged them to change their policy, which we are gratified that they did by giving school districts the option to eliminate it,” New York City Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson Marge Feinberg told the Brooklyn Eagle Wednesday. “We are in the process of phasing this out and will eliminate it entirely in September.
“Not all our beef has this byproduct because we also get beef from vendors who do not use this in the meals,” Feinberg added.
School food issues have been much on the mind of Brooklyn parents, especially since images of the unsightly pink mush hit the Internet. The low-cost pink ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts and treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria. It does not have to be labeled as a meat product ingredient.
Residents of East New York, Brownsville, East Flatbush and Cypress Hills shared their school food concern with elected officials Wednesday night at a food town hall at United Community Centers in East New York.
Parents in other boroughs have also expressed concern. “We should not be serving our kids scraps from a slaughterhouse,” Manhattan Borough President Stringer said Wednesday, calling for the immediate removal of the substance.
Stringer demanded that the DOE disclose its plan and timeline for a phase-out, as well as information about existing contracts with vendors that use the additive. He noted that even many fast food chains have already made the decision to dump pink slime from their beef products.
“When New York City lags behind McDonalds and Taco Bell in their standards for food quality, you know something’s awry,” he said.
Beef Products Inc. founder Eldon Roth said in a statement, “We agree, as do the nation’s leading food safety authorities, with USDA’s unequivocal statement that the BPI’s Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings are safe, wholesome, and nutritious.”
McDonald's and other major chains have already discontinued their use of ammonia-treated beef products. Use of the substance in human food is banned altogether in countries like the United Kingdom.