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Bettina Siegel ’87: A food blogger takes on “pink slime.”

This is a good week to be a vegetarian. For the meat eaters among us, take a peek at the work of Bettina Siegel ’87, a school-lunch blogger who has launched a national campaign against a ground-beef ingredient known, innocuously, as Lean Beef Trimmings and, more nefariously, as pink slime.

Pink slime is “a mixture of beef scraps and connective tissue (formerly used only for pet food and rendering) that is treated with ammonia hydroxide to remove pathogens like salmonella and E coli,” Siegel writes in support of an online petition calling on the US Department of Agriculture to stop using pink slime in school lunch meat. “Due to public outcry, fast food giants like McDonald’s and Burger King have stopped using pink slime in their food. But the federal government continues to allow its use in school food and has just authorized the purchase of ground beef which collectively contains an additional 7 million pounds of pink slime for consumption by our nation’s children.”

In a blog post, she adds: “I oppose pink slime because it comes from a highly pathogenic source, it is a cheap filler which is not ‘ground beef’ as consumers commonly understand that term, because it is thought to be less nutritious than regular beef, and because it is widely used in our food supply without any disclosure to consumers.”

Siegel’s petition, posted on March 6, had gathered nearly 250,000 signatures at this writing. Several supermarket chains announced they would stop selling ground beef with pink slime; the campaign has made national news, including ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, NPR, and various print and online outlets.

The meat industry, which says the product is perfectly safe, calls it LFTB, for Lean Finely Textured Beef. Others call it LBT. Just make sure that the next time you order a BLT, they don’t mix up the initials.


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