Chicago Public Schools does NOT have “pink slime” in the cafeteria

 

Back in the day — Day 68: hamburger (no pink slime!)

Chicago Public Schools confirmed this week that they do not purchase pink slime from the USDA to serve to students in cafeterias across the Chicagoland area. Here’s the exact info from the article:

“None of the meat served at CPS schools contains pink slime as part of the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. None of our food contains any of this substance,” said Frank Shuftan, from the office of communication at the CPS.

That’s good to know. I also spoke with Mr. Shuftan and he confirmed that quote. I’m relieved to know that when I ate school lunch for a year, I did not eat the dreaded “pink slime.”

But I did eat a lot of beef that year. Beef in the form of patties, beef in the form of crumbles in a sauce and beef as a Salisbury steak. Beef finds its way in a lot of dishes. As a meat eater, I don’t have a problem with beef or meat for that matter. But reading all the research recently makes me think that I may need to back off our family’s consumption of meat in general, and red meat in particular. The Los Angeles Times just reported “All red meat is bad for you, new study says.” The article goes on to report:

Adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.

Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20% higher risk of death during the study.

“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

So you are probably not eating a steak every day. I mean, who is?  But how often are you eating red meat? Should I eat meat everyday? Most days I do, but should I change my habits? What about processed meats? Truthfully, bacon on Sunday mornings will continue to be served at my house…

Going back to the whole “pink slime” debacle, that’s why I blogged previously that we should maybe think about other protein options. Replacing pink slime (in the districts that buy it) with regular ground beef that could cost more and might strain already-strained budgets. I’m advocating for some kind of plant-based protein like beans. How about black bean burgers? Anyone?

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13 Responses to Chicago Public Schools does NOT have “pink slime” in the cafeteria

  1. Philippa March 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Long ago, when food production systems weren’t this vast, people used to cook up bones for broth and many of those little bits that find themselves turned into pink slime today, would have been part of the stew instead. I have been reading more and more about the health benefits of meat broths recently, and can’t help wondering whether we have taken our food processing to unchartered unhealthy extremes by incorporating this mechanically separated gunk in our cheap foods, without thinking twice about reaching for a tetrapak of bouillon or a conveniently packaged dehydrated cube when we want some broth.

    We do eat meat in our household, and a fair amount of it. But it comes from small scale farms near where we live, and there is no processing that goes into it at all. I’ve read about the red meat study too, as well as some of the critiques from a Paleo point of view. I’m not sure exactly what to believe, other than that there’s no evidence any of those nurses cut out grains while eating all that meat.

    • Jen March 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      Philippa, I’m one of the few who still makes bone broths from scratch. It is highly nutritious and soothing to the digestive tract. There is a reason, historically, that broth is served to ill people. It’s criminal that hospitals serve their patients a cup of hot water, and a little package of chemicals to mix in it, in place of real broth!

      We purchase 1/2 of a grass fed cow from a local farmer every 18 months for our family. I ask for all the bones, which are labelled “dog bones”. Makes me smile, because they’re for my bone broths, not dogs. I also ask for the liver, tongue, heart and oxtail. These are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. We also purchase a pastured organic pig, and many pastured, organic chickens from local farmers as well. I have NO FEAR of feeding my family this meat, from animals living as they should (on pasture) and humanely cared for and slaughtered. I’m so thankful to all small farmers who continue to provide non industrial meat as an option to local families.

      By the way, we are not wealthy, but we prioritize the purchase of quality food for our family.

  2. Katie March 15, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    We only eat grassfed and pastured meats from local farmers. Grassfed is said to have high natural omega 3s, vitamin d and plenty of good minerals from the soil that fed the animals. I fel very safe eating meats this way. But I wouldn’t touch industrial meat with a ten foot pole. Not beef, not chicken, not pork.

  3. hillary March 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    The media reporting on the increased risk of death with red-meat-eating is hugely overblown. That study was pretty crappy. There’s a good run-down on why it’s not very good on The Fat Nutritionist, if you are interested:
    http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/red-meat-and-mortality-this-ones-for-you/

    • Ashton March 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      Hillary, I haven’t read the post that you put here yet, but in general I do not trust the media to report science accurately. I’m open to the idea that there was crappy journalism going on. But I would be suspicious of anyone calling themselves a nutritionist. Anyone can call themselves that. They don’t have to have any qualifications at all. Dieticians have degrees and have studied extensively about the effects of different foods on the body.

      • hillary March 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

        Not just crappy journalism, but crappy science. The entire study is incredibly weak. My main problem with it is that they used a self-reported food survey that they updated once every four years. Asking someone to note the frequency at which they ate certain foods over the past four years is extremely poor science, if it can be called that at all.

        The author I linked is not an authority on the health of any particular foods (her main focus is helping people have a healthy relationship with eating, which is a different ballgame). However, her layperson’s analysis of the flaws in the study is spot-on.

  4. Laura March 16, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Honestly, how do they know? It’s not like it’s going to be on the ingredient label. Do they have written confirmation from all their vendor’s vendors that their processed USDA commodity beef is truly free of pink slime? Ann Cooper says at this point it’s basically impossible to source enough LFTB-free meat. I would consider any claim that a giant food service corporation isn’t serving this stuff to be highly, highly suspect in the absence of conclusive evidence to the contrary.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/15/148685884/usda-to-give-schools-more-ground-beef-choices-after-outcry-over-pink-slime

  5. Meredith March 16, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    We used to be vegetarians and we added meat back into it about six months ago. We will cook only all natural meat and I usually make something to stretch over several meals. This keeps us away from all preservatives and things like pink slime. If I am craving something like bacon, I’ll get fresh pork belly uncured, or just some uncured bacon from the store or farmers market. There are ways to keep meat into your diet and do it right. We quit meat because all of it scared us, now we realize it does help, if you do it right.

  6. Pam March 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    My family is another one of those locally-grown-grass-fed-pastured-organic-meat families too. I love being able to ask the farmers about their animals and knowing I can visit the farms to see them in action. We plan on purchasing half of a cow in the near future, and I am hoping I can get all the bones and organs (my kids’ favorite cut is the tongue!). It’s such a shame that society generally views those products as waste when there is so much nutrition in them.

    Ironically, as much as I do like black beans, unless prepared in a way to decrease their phytic acid content, they can have a chelating effect on minerals and other nutrients, preventing our bodies from absorbing what we think we’re getting from them. I don’t see anything wrong with offering up a meatless meal, so long as it is done to provide good nutrition.

    Wouldn’t it be something if schools viewed food as an important standard like math and English? I mean, we ALL have to eat. You don’t have to force eating meat or being a vegetarian. Don’t even mention the food pyramid. Make it an education about what our food is, where it comes from, and how to get the most out of it without relying on others to prepare it. I’d love for a student to ask, “But when will I ever use this outside of school?” Ah, well. One can dream.

  7. Jen March 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    We have cut out most all red meat from our diets. Hubby and I started on our journey of weight loss/eating better in 2011. We switched from red meat every day for dinner to chicken and even ground turkey (something hubby said he’d NEVER do!).

    We do still have red meat/steak on occassion – but it has to be grass fed. Hubby won’t allow other red meat in the house, and when we go out for dinner/to parties we shy away from red meat for a variety of reasons; but pink slime is one of them.

    Similar for McDonald’s. Hubby had heard (and since been refuted) that they used pink slime in their chicken mcnuggets. My kids love that as a special “treat”. We’ve stopped getting the nuggets for them; they get burgers IF we stop at McDonald’s now. We just don’t want to chance it.

  8. Ruth March 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    I would read this before you change your diet: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/will-eating-red-meat-kill-you/#axzz1pL0J6fiq

    My grandmother is one of those nurses in the study. I would not trust her recording of what she ate over one year (I wouldn’t trust myself to remember what I ate in one year!).

  9. Elizabeth March 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Hi Mrs. Q! How are you feeling our your (and my) beloved bacon….so sad!

  10. J. Smith March 22, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    I think you should check out this analysis of that study and it’s obvious flaws: http://www.dietdoctor.com/do-unhealthy-meat-eaters-live-shorter-lives

    So the “meat eaters” exercised less, smoked three times as much, started off more obese, had higher rates of diabetes, were eating less fruits and vegetables but more calories (apparently in the form of junk), and drink more alcohol. Obviously it’s the meat that’s causing them to die sooner (note sarcasm)

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