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'Pink slime' to be added to U.S. school lunches

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It gives new meaning to the phrase "Where's the beef?" The notorious "pink slime" that McDonald's and other fast food giants have been criticized for adding to their beef products is regularly served to U.S. students as part of the national school lunch program.

In January, McDonald's announced it would ditch pink slime, which is essentially a mixture of beef trimmings treated with ammonia and used as filler for beef patties.

Jamie Oliver helped bring worldwide attention to so-called pink slime after criticizing McDonald's for using it. Other chains, such as Burger King and Taco Bell, have also given up use of pink slime in the wake of the controversy.

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But it appears pink slime isn't gone. The Daily reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to buy seven million pounds of the beef trimmings in coming months for the national school lunch program.

The Daily interviewed Carl Custer, a longtime veteran of the Food Safety Inspection Service, and he said his "objection to having it in the schools is that it's not meat."

In Canada, McDonald's says it has only ever used pure beef in its hamburger patties and there is no nationwide school program as there is in the U.S.

Still, growing interest in this story demonstrates the continuing consumer backlash against food additives and preservatives that are added to products. Many are calling for better labelling rules to make it clearer what additives are used and what potential concerns surrounding them may be.

Do companies do a good enough job of telling consumers what's in their products?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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