Dear Mrs. Obama: Please Stop the USDA from Sliming Our Children
March 7, 2012
Dear Mrs. Obama,
Please stop the USDA from sliming our children.
You speak out passionately about what America’s children eat at schools, and you have worked hard to ensure that they have access to fresh foods. You must be as shocked as we were to read that the U. S. Department of Agriculture has purchased 7 million pounds of “pink slime” for school lunches. This ammonia-treated meat is too disgusting even for fast food chains like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King—yet it will be fed to school children across the country.
As a physician, I am appalled that the federal government would serve this disturbingly unhealthy, chemically-treated substance in school lunch lines. Pink slime is not food. It is made by grinding up scraps of fatty beef and connective tissue and is treated with ammonia hydroxide—a chemical used in household cleaners and fertilizers—to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It is used as filler for hamburger patties.
What’s more shocking is that this announcement comes just weeks after the USDA released new standards that call for less fat and sodium and more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals.
Schools already have too many processed meats on their menus. A recent report by my organization, the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, found that 93 percent of schools regularly serve breakfasts that include processed meats. Research has linked processed meat to obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
I urge you, as a mother and as a First Lady who often raises the need to think about America’s children, to take action. Please make sure that the USDA does not slime our children anymore.
Neal Barnard, M.D.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine