"Pink slime," school lunches, and social media
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"Pink slime," school lunches, and social media
In March 2012, an intense public discussion took place in a short period of time regarding whether the USDA-approved product called lean finely textured beef (pejoratively known as pink slime) should be a component of ground beef purchased for the National School Lunch Program. This site highlights some artifacts from the discussion to examine how social media was used in the discourse.
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Let's Put a Stop to "Pink Slime" on School Lunch Trays

Let's Put a Stop to "Pink Slime" on School Lunch Trays | "Pink slime," school lunches, and social media | Scoop.it
Back in July, 2010 I wrote a post entitled "One Burger, Please, Extra Ammonia and Hold the E Coli" which described the now well-publicized beef product known as "pink slime."  The substance, which ...
cmsrhet1's insight:

On March 6, 2012, "The Lunch Tray" blogger Bettina Elias Siegel announces that she is launching an online petition to ban lean finely textured beef (also known as LFTB or "pink slime") from the USDA's National School Lunch Program. She had recently learned from the now-defunct news website The Daily that the USDA planned to continue to buy beef that included LFTB.

Siegel is a graduate of Harvard Law School and previously worked as an attorney. Yet for this blog, she has the persona of an amateur: a stay-at-home mom with an interest in food. (She notes in a later blog post that she had not been paid for writing her blog, with the exception of $100 she received from Google ads in the past year.)

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Now using #pinkslime hashtag ...

cmsrhet1's insight:

Twitter is one method for how supporters of banning LFTB in school lunches can follow the discussion. The hashtag persists in Twitter. Eighteen months after Siegel and others started using #pinkslime, there are recent tweets that contain the hashtag.

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USDA Announces Additional Choices for Beef Products in the Upcoming School Year

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2012 – In response to requests from school districts across the country, the USDA announced today that it will offer more choices to schools in the National School Lunch Program when it comes to purchases of ground beef...
cmsrhet1's insight:

The USDA issues this traditional press release nine days after the online petition is started. Neither social media nor traditional media is credited with affecting the decision to allow schools to choose ground beef that does not contain LFTB. The term "pink slime" is not used in the press release.

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USDA Blog » Setting the Record Straight on Beef

USDA Blog » Setting the Record Straight on Beef | "Pink slime," school lunches, and social media | Scoop.it

Posted by Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety, on March 22, 2012 at 11:42 AM

As the head of USDA’s public health agency, I am responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe for American families. I approach this role not only as a food safety expert and a physician, but also as a mother. And I want to address the national conversation over the last few weeks about the safety of Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB).

- See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/03/22/setting-the-record-straight-on-beef/#sthash.B6Eco2cP.dpuf

cmsrhet1's insight:

A week after the USDA issues the traditional press release (shown in the scoop above), a USDA administrator writes this blog post defending the use of LFTB.

The rhetoric of this piece is clearly different from the press release. The press release is official and impersonal. The document is written in the third person, has no picture, and has no affordances for interactivity. 

This blog post, however is written in the first person (with the adminitrator identifying herself as a mother), includes a picture of the administrator, and allows readers to comment on the post. The post is "official" (especially with the American flag in the background of the photo) but attempts to relate to the reader conversationally. 

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My Response to a Facebook Commenter re: LFTB, Job Losses, "Pink Goo" and More

My Response to a Facebook Commenter re: LFTB, Job Losses, "Pink Goo" and More | "Pink slime," school lunches, and social media | Scoop.it
Over the last few weeks, a pro-LFTB commenter named Tiffany has left numerous wall posts on TLT's Facebook page and when I finally wrote my belated response to her this morning, it seemed worth pos...
cmsrhet1's insight:

On April 4, 2012, Siegel posts her response to two LFTB supporters on Facebook and then shares her comments on her blog. (As of this writing, it appears that the original Facebook posts are not available.) While Siegel has not used Facebook to announce the creation of the petition, she does use Facebook to provide updates about the progress of the petition and news related to the decreasing demand for the product in supermarkets.

Siegel's response to LFTB supporters notably does not refer to LFTB as "pink slime," even though the phrase was clearly prominent in her petition and other social media postings. The absence of "pink slime" in her response seems to acknowledge how charged the term has become for people who support the industry. 

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change.org petition: Tell USDA to STOP Using Pink Slime in School Food!

cmsrhet1's insight:

Siegel launches this petition on March 6, 2012. The petition garners more than 200,000 signatures by March 12, 2012. As of this writing, the petition has more than 258,000 signatures.

Both individuals and groups may create petitions at change.org, but I wonder if Siegel's status as an amateur individual (not a staff member of a non-profit organization) might contribute to the strong support that her petition receives. I also wonder if the ability to leave a comment when signing the petition contributes to people's interest in signing it. Because the interface allows participants to do more than just sign the petition, the document is more interactive than a typical paper petition might be.

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70 Percent of Ground Beef at Supermarkets Contains "Pink Slime"

70 Percent of Ground Beef at Supermarkets Contains "Pink Slime" | "Pink slime," school lunches, and social media | Scoop.it

Gerald Zirnstein grinds his own hamburger these days. Why?

cmsrhet1's insight:

This ABC News broadcast airs on March 7, 2012, the day after Siegel's petition was launched. The online petition and the ABC reports are not coordinated, but it seems reasonable to connect the intensified discussion about the product to the contributions of both social media and broadcast media. Siegel and Jim Avila, the reporter for this story, appear together on Anderson Cooper Live a few weeks after this broadcast to talk about LFTB.

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BPI Responds to USDA Decision on Lean Beef Trimmings in Schools

Craig Letch, Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Beef Products Inc, responds to the USDA's decision on giving schools the option to use lean bee...
cmsrhet1's insight:

Beef Products Inc--a major producer of LFTB--uses social media to comment on the USDA's March 15 decision to offer schools ground beef that does not use LFTB. However, the company does not appear to be fully engaging in a Web 2.0 practice; the comments feature in YouTube is disabled, so the video is a one-way conversation. What is also interesting about this video is that the last 15 seconds contain no narration--just footage of clean industrial facilities. Without words, the video seems to argue for the safety of LFTB.

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Heidi Skurat Harris's comment, September 17, 2013 2:43 PM
They probably can't use words because if they make certain claims, they could be sued. Just my jaded opinion...
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Pink slime: Get a load of this

Pink slime: Get a load of this | "Pink slime," school lunches, and social media | Scoop.it
If you've been following the pink slime story, you know that it has gotten huge. I find it interesting because important people like Michael Pollan and Jami
cmsrhet1's insight:

The petition is also discussed by other bloggers, such as "Mrs. Q" on her "Fed Up With Lunch" blog. Unlike Siegel, some of the bloggers concerned about LFTB in school lunches do not provide their real names. Mrs. Q does not have the same volume of comments on her blog as Siegel does. Is it possible that people are more likely to respond to bloggers who use their real names?

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"Pink slime" outrage goes viral in stunning display of social media’s power

"Pink slime" outrage goes viral in stunning display of social media’s power | "Pink slime," school lunches, and social media | Scoop.it
For the better part of two decades, before it was dubbed “pink slime,” this beef byproduct was nothing more than a mild-mannered staple in fast food burgers, tacos in school lunches and ground...
cmsrhet1's insight:

Even though the USDA does not explicitly acknowledge the role of social media in its decision regarding LFTB's availability in the National School Lunch Program, this Washington Post article establishes a connection between Siegel's petition and the USDA's decision.

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