Terrance Heath

OMG! WTF Is 'Pink Slime?'

Filed By Terrance Heath | March 17, 2012 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Kit Foshee, pink slime, USDA

I've been a vegetarian for more than 20 years now. Now, I'm married to a meat-eater, and we're not raising our boys as vegetarians. But for more than 20 years, I haven't consumed meat. And while I've tried to keep abreast on food safety issues, until last week I didn't know what the hell "pink slime" was. My husband had to tell me.

Sweet Jeezus. Well, I know now. And apparently I have this guy to thank for it.

All the hullaballoo reminded me of a dramatic talk I witnessed about a year ago on this very topic at a conference organized by the Government Accountability Project (GAP)'s Food Integrity Campaign called "Employee Rights and the Food Safety Modernization Act." The event's focus was on the little-known but critical aspects of the newly enacted food safety law, which would give whistleblowers new protection.

The show-stopping presentation came from Kit Foshee, a former employee-turned-whistleblower who was fired by BPI, the very same company now in the news for pink slime. Foshee inspired a widely published op-ed written by GAP that lead to a several larger exposes in major newspapers.

...Foshee's talk was remarkable for its content -- he worked as BPI's corporate quality assurance manager for 10 years and spoke in great detail about BPI's beef filler-making process -- but it was also a real act of bravery, as it involved confronting his former employers, who just happened to be in the room.

Parker and I have a little routine we go through every morning, since I'm the one who gets him out the door to school. (The hubby leaves earlier, to take Dylan off to his pre-k/childcare.) I look at the school lunch menu for the day, tell Parker what's on it, and ask if he want to buy his lunch or take his lunch.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, Parker chooses to take his lunch. That means I'll spend a few minutes making a sandwich, or sometimes packing up the leftovers Parker said he wanted to take to school. (We've had at least one recipe request from a teacher who happened to notice what Parker was having for lunch one day.)

Now, if you're a parent and/or have ever had to get a kid off to school in the morning, or out the door, you know every minute is precious. Especially if you've got to then get yourself to work. So, sometimes I grumble silently to myself about the extra minute spend having to make lunch.

Well, I won't anymore. Sure, schools will now be able to reject foods with made with "pink slime," and maybe our Parker's school lunches never had it to begin with. (Though I somehow doubt it, if "pink slime" means cheaper food prices.) And, given that conservatives want to weaken or do away with food safety regulations entirely, the lunches I prepare may not be much safer. But at least I have a better idea of what's in them.

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