Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Gillibrand to USDA: Pull ‘Pink Slime’ Beef from School Meals Now

Slime Included In 100 Million Pounds of Ground Beef Served to 32 Million Schoolchildren

March 16, 2012

Washington, D.C. – With ground beef laced with ammonium hydroxide known as “pink slime” included in more than 100 million pounds of ground beef served to 32 million schoolchildren enrolled in the National School Meal program, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on the USDA to pull the treated beef from meals served to children immediately.

Fast food chains, such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell have already eliminated the pink slime from their menus. And the USDA is giving schools the option to stop serving the ammonia-treated ground beef filler starting next fall.

“If it’s not good enough for fast food chains, it certainly isn’t good enough for the School Meals Program,” said Senator Gillibrand in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “The time is now for the USDA to abolish pink slime from school lunches.  I look forward to your attention and response to this critical issue.”

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack:

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I am writing to you today to urge you to remove lean finely textured beef laced with ammonium hydroxide, otherwise known as “pink slime,” from the National School Meals Program.   McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell have eliminated pink slime from their menus, and I urge USDA to do the same in their effort to improve the nutritional quality of the School Meals Program that provides meals to over 32 million children. Offering schools a choice to opt out of purchasing pink slime is not an acceptable choice.  We should ensure our children have access to nutritious meat, not the cheapest alternative filler. 

Currently, there is no labeling requirement for “pink slime,” nor is there proof that this nutritionally inferior product is safe for our children’s health.   According to USA Today, schools across the country continue to serve over 111.5 million pounds annually.  I believe most parents would be appalled to know that the food their children are eating has been treated with ammonium hydroxide, a common ingredient in window cleaning products. 

Our children deserve better than highly processed, chemically treated, scraps of meat and the USDA should stop buying this product immediately.  I am painfully aware of the budgetary pressures faced by the USDA and our schools to feed our children healthy lunches and breakfasts.  I have long been an advocate for more funding for the school meal program and will continue to fight to ensure that we can afford the best quality foods for our children. 

If it’s not good enough for fast food chains, it certainly isn’t good enough for the School Meals Program.  The time is now for the USDA to abolish pink slime from school lunches.  I look forward to your attention and response to this critical issue.