The Growth of the Green Consumer: Pink Slime & BPA in Plastics

See entire April 11, 2012 newsletter including upcoming radio show guests

Two issues really set me off in the past two weeks: one was all of the publicity and controversy about pink slime in our beef and the other was all the hoopla about BPA in plastics. My series of reactions to both were predictable – shock, indignation, disbelief, extensive googling and then a kind of green celebration. I arrived at the green celebration place because of hope. Hope for our future, hope for our health, hope for the planet. It is so clear that the conversation among consumers is changing. Topics like pink slime and BPA in plastics are making national news, getting national attention and in the case of pink slime, consumers are being heard. More and more, people want to know what’s in their food or what poisons they are being exposed to and to what extent and then they want to decide what to do about it. I think we call that choice.

So what actually is pink slime? Here is the best definition I could find and it was on Wikipedia: 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 Hamburgerfiller. 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. The term “pink slime” was coined in 2002 by Gerald Zirnstein, who at that time was a microbiologist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service.

If you want to go down the pink slime rabbit hole and check out all the references, here is the link. Warning: reading all about it may be hazardous to your mental health but remember that to know better is to do better. Whether you decide that pink slime is detrimental to your health or not is up to you. Let us simply celebrate that as consumers we are demanding, more and more, that suppliers disclose what is actually in our food so that we can choose whether to eat it or not.

And if you REALLY want to read a great article explaining this issue in plain English, here is yet another link. Well worth the read.

Making the top two on the “things that set me off” list is the FDA’s ruling (or lack thereof) on banning the use of BPA from food packaging. BPA is a controversial chemical – Bisphenol-A. It probably would be impossible for me to rant enough about this to feel better.

Here is a great line from their statement: “while the agency is concerned about BPA, there wasn’t enough evidence yet to justify radical action. FDA is pursuing additional studies to address the uncertainties in the findings,” the agency said. I beg to disagree but, hey, they didn’t call me to ask me what I thought.
Plastic Bottles emit BPA
Again, I don’t claim to be a scientist nor an expert on BPA. But I can tell you this: I have probably read at least 50-60 research studies (including from such radical organizations as the Breast Cancer Fund – sarcasm intended) that have indicated the following: BPA has been found in the urine of pregnant women; it has been associated with a wide range of negative health effects later in life including breast cancer; and it has been found in breast milk. Ready for more? Exposure to this nasty chemical has also been linked, in lab study after lab study, to prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I have also read study after study labeling BPA as an endocrine-disrupting chemical that can affect children’s hormonal systems during development. More studies? I think not.

I think the FDA was dead wrong, I believe BPA is a nasty chemical and it angers me. I ask you – how could it not? The whole thing stinks. Call me an angry environmentalist or call me someone who cares about my health, the health of our children and the health of the planet. I answer to all of them.

So why such hope on my part? Because it made national news, because some great organizations, concerned medical professionals and concerned citizens are not close to letting this one slide. Hats off to the NRDC, to Lori Popkewitz Alper (Groovy Green Livin’) and many more for fighting the good fight. We’ve only just begun.

See entire April 11, 2012 newsletter including upcoming radio show guests


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