Schiff Calls for Ban on “Pink Slime” in Public School Cafeterias

Senator Adam Schiff visited John Burroughs High School (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) called for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fully ban “finely textured lean beef trimmings,” more commonly known as “pink slime” from school lunches. The USDA, after facing outcry from parents and students around the country, announced that they would allow local school districts to opt-out of purchasing beef containing pink slime. However, this announcement does not fix the problem, and will likely result in many school districts throughout the country continuing to purchase the less expensive, pink slime beef. Schiff issued the following statement:

“As a father of two kids in public school, I am appalled that pink slime is being served in school cafeterias to our children. While the USDA quickly took action after hearing complaints from lawmakers, parents and students, their announcement earlier this week does not go far enough to protect school kids from this poor quality ‘food.’

 “Pink slime should be banned from school cafeterias, and it’s my hope that Secretary Vilsack takes immediate action to ensure our kids have access to the healthiest food possible.”

Earlier this week, Schiff joined with Congressional colleagues led by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), in writing to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking him to immediately ban the use of the product in school lunches. More on the USDA decision can be found here.

The letter sent by Members is below:


Dear Secretary Vilsack:

Thank you for your recent attention to the issue of “finely textured lean beef trimmings” or “pink slime” in our children’s school food.  While we appreciate your recent statement that schools may ‘opt out’ of purchasing the slurry meant for animal feed, we are writing to urge you to completely end the purchasing of pink slime for school food.

As you know, “pink slime” is a term used for an industrial slurry of beef scraps and connective tissue. This product, produced by two companies in the United States, Cargill Meat Solutions and Beef Products, Inc., is treated with ammonia hydroxide to remove E. coli and Salmonella.

Although fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King have stopped using pink slime in their food, the USDA has not yet made this policy change, and recently authorized the purchase of ground beef containing an additional seven million pounds of pink slime destined to be served in school cafeterias.  If these fast food chains won’t serve pink slime, why should school cafeterias?

We are also concerned with the consequences of creating an ‘opt out’ or two-tier system for schools. If pink slime laced ground beef is less expensive to make, we are very concerned that lower funded districts will be forced to use it. Creating a two-tiered school lunch program where kids in less affluent communities get served this low-grade slurry is wrong.

We share the concerns of people around the country about this bi-product being fed to our children. We hope you will do everything in your power to eliminate it from the National School Lunch Program.

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