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Activism At Work: Farewell “Pink Slime”

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April 27, 2012

I know many women who are reluctant to join any political campaigns or activist groups; however, many mothers are activists without even realizing it. With social media and blogging, stories can become viral almost instantly and moms often jump in to express their opinion or rally to support a campaign. This recently happened in regards to a product media labeled as “pink slime.”

Most of you have probably heard of the product from various news sources, through social media, or reading about the atrocity on blogs. Sometimes all it takes is a little tiny nudge or piece of information for a strong activist group to form. This is exactly what happened with the “pink slime” phenomena.

In case you missed the debate, pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB) and boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT), is a beef-based food additive that may be added to ground beef and beef-based processed meats as an inexpensive filler. It consists of finely ground beef scraps and connective tissue which have been mechanically removed from the fat. The recovered material is processed, heated, and treated with ammonia gas or citric acid to kill E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. It is finely ground, compressed into blocks and flash frozen for use as an additive to beef products.

Many mothers, health advocates, and everyday consumers were highly upset when they found out that meat they buy may contain this type of filler. Consumers immediately called for a ban on the use of the product, or at a bare minimum labeling on products containing LFTB. As a health food advocate I was highly disturbed that beef treated with ammonia was not labeled as such. The LFTB makers said that there was nothing to label, the product was beef. They requested to know what exactly they would be labeling. For me the answer was simple. Either label it beef treated with ammonia or citric acid, or label it as LFTB.

Regardless of whether or not you believe pink slime causes health concerns, people universally seemed to agree that labeling food is the proper way to go. Ultimately consumers took to the supermarkets in droves and requested to know which beef products contained pink slime and refused to purchase if they could not guarantee its absence. This lead to Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, and a number of other large retailers refusing to purchase beef from companies that used pink slime.

Ultimately with such large retailers pulling from the market, AFA Foods, a processor of ground beef and manufacturer of “pink slime,” has filed for bankruptcy. They cite the wave of negative media coverage and social media call to action surrounding “pink slime” as the cause of their demise.

Next time that you think your small efforts don’t matter, remember pink slime as a thing of the past thanks to the non-activist activist. Stand up for things you believe in and you never know the type of change that could happen.

If you were a mom on a mission in regards to pink slime consider making your next mission labeling of Genetically modified foods.

Were you an unknowing anti-pink slime activist too?

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