The media has been feasting on a hot story the past week: News of so-called “pink slime” infiltrating school food across America. As you might expect, HSUS couldn’t help but chime in, as it does any time there’s the potential to garner negative attention on animal products used as food in furtherance of its vegan agenda. (Strangely, HSUS seems eerily quiet every time there’s an E. Coli outbreak in vegetables.)
Over at the Huffington Post, HSUS chief food propagandist Michael Greger piled on. “Which is more important,” he gasps, “corporate profits or the safety and health of our loved ones?”
So what’s the truth behind the rhetoric? The food in question is more accurately known as lean finely textured beef or boneless lean beef trimmings. It’s used in hamburgers and ground beef. Basically, it’s beef from leftover parts of the cow. When the meat processors make various cuts of steak, for example, little bits of beef are left over amidst the trimmings and on the bones. And one company found a way to consolidate these bits and process them to remove fat and kill pathogens.
It’s strange, then, that HSUS should attack it. Despite Greger’s false dichotomy, this beef is safe—the company making this product was featured as a model of food safety just a few years ago, even winning praise from a foodborne-illness victims’ advocacy group. Once it’s all cooked, is there really much nutritional difference? Not that we can tell.
And it’s essentially following the old principle of “use the entire animal.” The use of these bits of the animal that might otherwise be discarded provides 7 million pounds of food annually to the school lunch program. Given that the average cow provides about 550 pounds of beef, we’d need to slaughter 12,000 more cows in order to make up the loss in just the schools. Overall, we’d actually need to slaughter an additional 1.5 million cows a year to replace all of the beef product.
So congratulations, HSUS and Michael Greger. Millions more cows will be slaughtered because of the handiwork of folks like you.