Last week’s final despatch of the shortlisted products in the FreeFrom Skincare Awards to our Beauty Bible volunteers for month-long intensive testing sessions has freed me up to to check out the huge pile of interesting emails and news items that have arrived in my in-box over the last few weeks – so I fear that you may be bombarded with blog posts this weekend…
However, before I had even started, I picked up a Google alert on ‘freefrom’ which took me to this article in the Washington Post on the banishment of ‘pink slime’ from school meals in yet more local areas in the US.
‘Pink slime’, officially called ‘lean finely textured beef’ is ‘a combination of beef scraps and connective tissue that is simmered at low heat and spun in a centrifuge to remove fat. It is then sprayed with ammonia gas to kill pathogens such as E. coli, and finally is frozen and distributed to be added to ground beef.’ It makes up approximagely 6% of the 112 million pounds of beef that the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) will be distributing to schools around the country as part of the school lunch programme. The regulators maintain that the pink slime is perfectly safe to eat (no comment on its nutritional content…) and that, as it is an additive, it is not required to be listed on labels.
However, parents are rebelling, supported by a growing number of celebrity chefs, inlcuding our very own Jamie Oliver who has launched an appropriately lurid ‘Stop Pink Slime’ website from which you can sign a petition to the USDA, Tweet them (‘Dear @USDA, over 258,000 people want #PinkSlime out of school food. Tell us exactly what is in the food we eat!) – or just learn more about ‘pink slime’.
Not that we are all that much better – but at least we are honest enough to call our version ‘mechanically recovered meat’ as opposed to ‘lean finely textured beef’. MRM took a major pounding in the UK during the mad cow disease epidemic as it had included material from the spinal cords of beef cattle which could have been carrying BSE, so it is now only made from pig and chicken remains.
None the less, we do still use it to bulk out cheaper meat products – but at least, in the UK, it has to be declared, although it is usually called MSM, or Mechanically Separate Meat, rather than MRM these days. So at least you are able to make that ‘informed choice’ that we are always banging on about! For those who are interested in the labeling details, it falls under the heading of ‘declaring the origin’ of the ingredient – see ‘Labelling rules’ on this page on the Food Standards Authority’s website. And we would like to see it out of all of our school food too.