Friday, March 9, 2012

Soylent pink

Now that I've got a daughter at home, stuff like this makes me even angrier than it used to...
When McDonald’s and other fast-food chains announced last month that the infamous “pink slime” was no longer being used in their burgers, some thought the ammonium hydroxide-treated beef cuts had disappeared from our food supply once and for all. 
But a new report in the Daily tablet newspaper suggests the slime will appear in school lunches this spring — 7 million pounds of it. 
The USDA, schools and school districts plan to buy the treated beef from Beef Products Inc. (BPI) for the national school-lunch program in coming months. USDA said in a statement that all of its ground beef purchases “meet the highest standard for food safety.” The department also said it had strengthened ground beef safety standards in recent years. 
Last April, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver reported that 70 percent of America’s ground beef is made with BPI’s ammonia-treated product. 
BPI recently said that figure still holds. In a statement, the company called ammonium hydroxide a “natural compound ... widely used in the processing of numerous foods.” 
Gerald Zirnstein, a former microbiologist at the Food Safety Inspection Service who coined the term “pink slime,” told the Daily that the continued purchase of ammonium hydroxide-treated beef cuts for school lunches doesn’t make any sense. 
“I have a 2-year-old son,” he told the Daily. “And you better believe I don’t want him eating pink slime when he starts going to school.” 
Zirnstein came up with the “pink slime” phrase when he toured a Beef Products Inc. production facility in 2002 during an investigation into salmonella contamination in packaged ground beef. After the animal byproduct is mixed with ammonia, it has a pink appearance. Zirnstein e-mailed his colleagues after the visit to say he did not “consider the stuff to be ground beef,” according to the Daily.
The fact that something that was once relegated to pet food is now considered perfectly acceptable for our children to eat at school is somewhat nauseating. I certainly don't want to force my children to eat something that has been rejected even by McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell--frankly, the prospect of home-schooling has never seemed more appealing.

Of course, I'd argue that this kind of thing is yet another inevitable unintended consequence of the Fed's long-standing inflationary monetary policy. Nobody ever would have considered re-purposing this stuff for human consumption unless food inflation had gotten to a point that other alternatives were no longer affordable. That's also why you're now finding high-fructose corn syrup all over the place, since it's more cost-effective than sugar and the average consumer simply can't afford the real stuff anymore.

These kinds of trade-downs are everywhere lately, but of course they don't show up in "official" inflation statistics. A hamburger is considered a hamburger by the Fed, regardless of its content--the Fed makes no distinction between pure ground beef and something that is 30% "pink slime". I've ranted about this before and could do so all day long, but it's frankly pretty terrifying, and yet it's completely avoidable. We need to stop with the monetary hijinks and the nasty unintended consequences that they've created. Now.

[Washington Post]

1 comment:

  1. Home schooling? I don't think so. Al the more reason to buy from Whole Foods and to pack lunches from home!