Green Eggs and Pink Slime

Remember the iconic book by Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham? The hilarious rhyming text tells the story of a child who repeatedly refuses to try a new strange-sounding, funky-colored food. Over and over, in every possible way, he says, “NO!” But when the food is finally tasted, the reaction is unexpected, of course. Who can forget the turnaround ending?


I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,

The message is, sometimes you can’t tell a book by its cover or judge a food by its name. And then again, sometimes you can.

Green Eggs and Ham is what came to mind when I heard about the growing controversy over a strange food additive known as Pink Slime. Pink slime is made from leftover beef trimmings that have been treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill off E. Coli, salmonella, and other bacteria.  It can be found in abundance in grocery stores, school cafeterias, and restaurants across the nation. In fact, one former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist says that 70% of supermarket ground beef contains the stuff.

The slime consists of beef by-products: cow intestines, connective tissue, and other pieces/parts that cannot be used in traditional beef cuts. And don’t forget the ammonia. The mixture is heated to about 100 F and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix that remains then is compressed into blocks for use as a filler in ground meat. YUCK!!

The product has been on the market for years, and federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. But wholesome food advocates, like child nutrition guru Jamie Oliver, have denounced the process as an unsafe and unhealthy example of industrialized food production excesses.

This year the National School Lunch Program purchased about 7 million pounds of ground beef from from Beef Products Inc., and it’s estimated that pink slime accounts for up to 15% of the total. But starting this fall, schools will be able to ask burger makers to please hold the slime. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that schools will soon be able to choose whether or not to buy hamburger with the gelatin-like material.

The media has taken notice, and in the last few weeks reports on the unappetizing facts about pink slime have skyrocketed. It’s now being called “the food version of Kony 2012.” As parents, we make every effort to feed our kiddos quality, wholesome foods, but we can’t do it if we don’t even know what’s in the products we buy. It’s time to take pink slime out of school cafeterias and off  grocery store shelves.

I do not like it in a box.
I do not like it with a fox
I do not like it in a house
I do not like it with a mouse
I do not like it here or there.
I do not like it anywhere.
I do not like pink slime in ham.
I do not like it, Sam-I-am! 



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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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One response to “Green Eggs and Pink Slime”

  1. Ellen Schrier

    Hear, hear!

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