USDA Undersecretary for Pink Slime Hagen refusing to talk to media while defending beef additive

Undersecretary
for Pink Slime

If the USDA is going to send the undersecretary for food safety, Elisabeth Hagen, to a GOP photo opp in favor of adding “pink slime” to what we all thought was simply “ground beef,” they can at least direct the undersecretary to take questions from the media.  Otherwise it makes one question how safe pink slime really is if she’s been ducking the media for three weeks now.

What is Pink Slime?  It’s processed beef – and boy do I mean processed – that’s added to 70% of the ground beef in America.  Gaius wrote about it the other week – here he cites ABC News:

According to [USDA scientist] Custer, the product is not really beef, but “a salvage product” … made by gathering waste trimmings [beef "waste" is everything you think it is], simmering them at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spinning the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria … [then packaged] into bricks [and] frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef.

Mmmm… frozen ammonia beef bricks.  So it’s a food AND a floor cleaner!

More from TLC Cooking/Planet Green:

“Ten years ago, the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called ‘trimmings’ that were sold primarily as pet food. No more. Now, Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota transforms trimmings into something they call ‘boneless lean beef.’ In huge factories, the company liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as ‘pink slime,’ which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger.”

And even more:

See, the problem when you turn garbage bits of animal carcasses into “pink slime” to sell as a food product is that there’s an issue with pathogens, such as E. coli. And when samples of the pink slime were tested, the tests came back showing that the slime was rampant with harmful bacteria. Now, one might think that the best idea would be to decide not to sell pink slime to feed to humans, but there’s no money in that, is there? So BPI cleverly started disinfecting the slime with ammonia. And convinced the FDA to allow them to list it as a “processing ingredient” so that we wouldn’t know we were eating ammonia.

I know I’m hungry.

More from Chris:

Who would have guessed that a governor who receives $150,000 in money from Pink Slime producers would come out in support of Pink Slime being sold? Other promoters of Pink Slime include a website that receives money from the Pink Slime industry as well as cattle state governor Rick Perry.

Since the GOP governors, plus the USDA undersecretary for food safety, were all there for the no-questions event, how about they all go on record and formally announce that all “beef” meals at home and at formal state events will use only Pink Slime? Show us all how nutritious and delicious it is and lead by example. Dude, it’s Pink Slime, as Rick Perry says:

Governors from three meat-producing states today defended Beef Products Inc., the company that makes lean finely textured beef, which now-former USDA scientists nicknamed “pink slime,” after a walk through the company’s plant accompanied by ABC News.

“Let’s call this product what it is and let ‘pink slime’ become a term of the past,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said after the tour, after which officials showed off t-shirts with the slogan, “Dude, it’s beef!”

Stung by consumer reaction to the process used by BPI, grocery stores pulled beef containing the filler off the shelves and BPI closed three of its four plants for lack of demand. The governors said that the treatment the product received in the media was unfair because it is not only safe, but also nutritious and allows grocers to sell leaner ground beef at a lower cost.

Since these GOP governors and the USDA “safety” director are in theory so supportive of the free market, what’s to fear about clearly labeling products that include Pink Slime and letting consumers decide. Surely there’s nothing to fear since it’s such a wonderful product. Right? And why stop at school lunches — the entire administration should be serve 100% pink slime in its cafeterias and lead by example.

Someone please remind me why Dr. Elisabeth Hagen still has a job with this administration? Obama needs to do a lot better than this for a job as important as food safety. But maybe he likes Pink Slime and thinks it’s OK to feed to his family?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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