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Borough President Calls for Ban on 'Pink Slime' Meat in Schools

By Mary Johnson | March 21, 2012 3:09pm
Pink slime is a mash-up of meat byproducts, treated with ammonia to kill bacteria.
Pink slime is a mash-up of meat byproducts, treated with ammonia to kill bacteria.
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Manhattan Borough President's Office

DOWNTOWN — Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is urging the Department of Education to stop serving meat laced with “pink slime” in public school lunches.

At a press conference Wednesday, Stringer said he sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott calling on the DOE to draft a detailed plan for phasing out "pink slime," which is a mash-up of meat byproducts treated with ammonia to kill bacteria.

“We should not be feeding our kids the scraps from the slaughterhouse floor,” Stringer said, holding a photograph of an oozing pile of the slime. “If kids go to the movies, this is what they think aliens eat. This is not what they should be eating.”

The push from Stringer comes a week after the USDA announced that schools buying food for government-subsidized lunch programs could choose between meat containing pink slime and chemical-free meat, with no fillers.

That option officially becomes available this fall, and although the DOE has said it intends to phase out pink slime, Stringer said he wants a more solid timetable.

The borough president is also asking the DOE to disclose all school menu items that contain pink slime, as well as the names of vendors supplying pink slime-tinged products.

“As it is, parents are left with no clear information about the prevalence of pink slime in their children’s meals, or the department’s plans for phasing it out,” Stringer wrote in his letter to Walcott. “DOE must be more clear and transparent.”

Layla Law-Gisiko, chair of Community Board 5's education committee and a mother of two, said her committee was planning to introduce a resolution urging the DOE to act on the issue of pink slime.

Law-Gisiko said her children, who attend P.S. 116 in Kips Bay, often eat school lunches.

“So they’ve had their share of pink slime in their bodies. Our children deserve better,” she said.

“If meat costs too much money, no meat. You don’t have to give [children] meat every day,” she added.

Stringer said that several other cities, including Boston and Los Angeles, have banned pink slime from school lunches, and both McDonald’s and Taco Bell have refused to use pink slime-laced meats in its food.

“If McDonald’s and Taco Bell can get rid of pink slime, certainly the Department of Education can do the same,” Stringer said.