Food Processing

'Pink Slime' School Choice Shows Importance of Food Industry Whistleblowers

Episode Shows Power of Whistleblower Concerns & Need for Meat Industry Whistleblower Protections

The recent media firestorm surrounding "pink slime" – ammoniated beef trimmings produced by Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) – has made the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) think twice about serving the controversial product to America's schoolchildren. Media reports state that the USDA will announce today it is giving schools a choice of ground beef purchases – including one choice for districts to not have this controversial food filler that many food advocates say shouldn't qualify as "beef."

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Pink Slime Controversy Shows Need for Meat Industry Whistleblower Protections

ground_beef_attPhoto via flickr user danieljordahlMedia coverage and public concerns regarding "pink slime" – ammoniated beef trimmings produced by Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) – have not let up since last week's announcement that the USDA plans to purchase seven million pounds of BPI's questionable product for the national school lunch program.

In one week's time, a petition calling on the USDA to stop using pink slime in school food has reached more than 200,000 signatures.

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'Pink Slime' Whistleblower Kit Foshee Interviewed on Network TV

kit_fosheeKit FosheeGAP client and whistleblower Kit Foshee was interviewed on ABC World News With Diane Sawyer yesterday to discuss concerns regarding ammoniated beef trimmings – popularly described as 'pink slime' – that are a key ingredient in hundreds of beef products sold to U.S. and international consumers.

From ABC:

“It kind of looks like play dough,” said Kit Foshee, who was a corporate quality assurance manager at Beef Products Inc., the company that makes pink slime. “It’s pink and frozen, it’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”  

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Utah Ag-Gag Following in Iowa's Footsteps

utah_map_redThe Utah Senate passed the state's "Ag Gag" bill yesterday with a 24-5 vote in a move to prevent undercover videotaping of abuse at livestock and poultry facilities. Following in Iowa's footsteps, lawmakers changed some language to penalize individuals who apply for a job at an agricultural operation under false pretenses.

According to Sen. Dave Hinkins (R), the amendments "protect legitimate employees who film safety violations." However, the bill creates shakier ground amidst an already hostile environment for potential food integrity whistleblowers. Criminalizing industry insiders only deflects attention away from holding industrial food producers accountable.

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What's on the School Lunch Menu? Ammoniated Beef!

lunch_students_attPhoto via flickr user woodleywonderworksEarlier this year, FIC celebrated the fact that major fast food chains pulled BPI's ammoniated beef trimmings from their menus, vindicating the actions of GAP client and whistleblower Kit Foshee. However, news has come that the USDA is still planning to purchase the controversial product for school lunches, according to The Daily.

Last year, 6.5 percent of the beef USDA purchased for the national school lunch program came from BPI. The partnership looks to continue in the coming months, as the agency aims to purchase 7 million pounds of the company's ammoniated beef for schools.

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While Iowa Ag Gag Becomes Law, FIC Fights in Utah

CAFO_hogsDespite efforts to prevent Iowa's "Ag Gag" legislation, including a FIC op-ed that appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette last week, Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law on Friday.

This is disconcerting news, however unsurprising (as the Associated Press points out) given Branstad's "strong ties to the state's agricultural industry." Iowa is a big player in the food industry as the nation's leading pork and egg producer, and this bill will make it even more difficult for whistleblowers to shine a light on unsafe practices that threaten citizens.

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Pesticide Exposure in Food Affects Children's Intelligence: Study

children_reading_attPhoto courtesy of San Jose LibraryA recent study shows that chemical exposure – including that from food products – may cause child IQ reduction that rivals the impacts of major medical conditions. The finding reveals that the effect on society of widespread lead, organophosphate pesticides and methylmercury exposure "may be more severe than what previous studies of individual risk would suggest." 

From Environmental Health News:

Organophosphate pesticides would affect the children by reducing IQ by about 17 million points at the population level.

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