Meaty issue (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

It’s not Soylent Green. But calling it “pink slime” doesn’t make it sound much more appetizing.

Officially, it’s “lean finely textured beef” — cheap, lean beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts and treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other bacteria. It’s mixed in with ground beef sold in supermarkets and served in some school lunches.

And it has drawn public outcry, mostly since a March 7 ABC News investigation reported that 70 percent of the ground beef sold in grocery stores contains the filler.

The outcry since has prompted several national grocers and fast-food chains to stop buying meat made with the filler. It also shut down, at least temporarily, three of the four plants where it is made in Iowa, Kansas and Texas.

And it has garnered nearly 259,000 signatures on an online petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “STOP using pink slime in school lunches” by school lunch blogger Bettina Siegel of The Lunch Tray.

But school districts U46 and 300 say all that has drawn few phone calls from concerned parents in the Elgin and Carpentersville-Dundee areas.

“Actually, I think we had just one parent that asked about it, asked what we were doing. Just one parent,” said Claudie Phillips, director of food and nutrition services in Elgin School District U46, the state’s second-largest district.

For the rest of the story, read Meaty issue (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Sun-Times Media.