"Pink Slime" in Osceola County Schools

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Geo

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Apr 17, 2012, 10:31:52 PM4/17/12
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Summary:

.) I publicly request that Tom Long "reassure all
parents with children in Osceola County schools that
you are taking this matter [pink slime] seriously"

.) Tom Long orders a "No Pink Slime" message be
published on the Osceola School District website.

.) Tom Long makes no effort whatsoever to verify the
accuracy of the message prior to its publication.

.) The "No Pink Slime" message posted on the Osceola
School District website proves false and is revised.

Details:

This is what we were told just a few weeks ago (see
http://www.webcitation.org/66MYyOgG6 ):

"Pink Slime" Not Used In Osceola School Cafeterias

In response to inquires regarding many recent news
articles about "Pink Slime"(ground beef with many added
unhealthy items), be assured that the Osceola School
District's Campus Grille Food Service Department does
not receive this product from the USDA. Osceola schools
use 100% ground beef or already cooked ground beef
crumbles. The district is continuing to work towards
the goal to eliminate all "raw" meat in our kitchens to
prevent cross contamination of food and to protect the
health of our students.

This is what we were being told as of 4/11/2012 (see
http://www.webcitation.org/66xw9xZOw ):

Updated Information:
The Use Of "Pink Slime" In Osceola School Cafeterias

In response to inquiries ...

Based upon this newly-acquired information, it is
possible that a portion of the beef served in the past
by the Osceola School District may have contained Lean
Finely Textured Beef. While the USDA has arranged to
exclude all Lean Finely Textured Beef for the next
school year, they remind us that there are no health
concerns whatsoever in the use of this product.

(Note: as of today the updated "pink slime" statement was moved to the
bottom of the Osceola School District home page.)

FYI, "pink slime" was previously used exclusively in dog food and other pet
products.

From Wikipedia (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slime ):

The term "pink slime" was coined by Dr. Gerald
Zirnstein to refer to the resulting products in an
internal email which Zirnstein wrote after the product
was approved by the USDA over his objections.[4]
Zirnstein has stated "I do not consider the stuff to be
ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef
to be a form of fraudulent labeling."[22]

"Pink slime" is banned for human consumption in Canada, Britain and the
European Union.

The person at the USDA responsible for finally approving "pink slime" for
use in more than just dog food was then Under Secretary of Agriculture
JoAnne Smith. She overruled her own government scientists to approve LFTB
for human consumption. Ms. Smith left the USDA in 1993 and joined the board
of directors of BPI's principal supplier. Beef Products Inc. (BPI) is the
maker of LFTB (aka "pink slime").

As it turns out, "pink slime" has likely been served to students in the
Osceola County School District for years. In fact, our children will likely
consume somewhere between 3300 and 5600 pounds of "pink slime" in Osceola
County schools during the 2011-2012 school year.

On March 16 I asked School Board Member Tom Long this (see "Request for Tom
Long - 2012-03-16", http://tinyurl.com/736vadk ):

Mr. Long, can you please reassure all parents with
children in Osceola County schools that you are taking
this matter seriously?

What are you doing to eliminate LFTB from our
children's school lunches?

Can you also let us know when any change has gone into
effect?

But as we have learned (only after Mr. Long was elected), he does not answer
questions in an open, transparent and accountable forum like this anymore
(see "Request for Tom Long - 2011-05-17", http://tinyurl.com/7zw2adu ).

So what does Tom Long do instead? He operates behind the scenes where
transparency and accountability are more easily avoided. This pattern of
behavior has been documented before (see "Subtle Little Lies",
http://tinyurl.com/7n9qpac ).

My original request was posted on a Friday night. So Mr. Long had the
weekend to read it directly from here. Or perhaps he had his buddy "Carl
Cricket" read it and forward it to him (Tom Long does admit that a "friend"
forwarded my posted request). Either way, we know that Mr. Long was not
motivated by any other inquiries made to the school district to publish a
"no pink slime" message. We know this because the school district received
no phone calls at all from parents about "pink slime". Only one "pink slime"
phone call was received by the school district and it was from the media (a
call which Tom Long knew nothing about).

So as of March 16, 2012 (just prior to when the "no pink slime" message
first appeared on the website), my open and public request to Tom Long about
the possibility of "pink slime" in Osceola schools was the only inquiry
made. Mr. long in fact admitted during the school board meeting this evening
that his action on the 20th was in response to "something on a blog with my
name attached to it" (again see "Request for Tom Long - 2012-03-16",
http://tinyurl.com/736vadk ).

On March 20, Tom Long picked up the phone and spoke to Dana Schafer,
Director of Community Relations for the Osceola School District. According
to Ms. Schafer, "He [Tom Long] asked that I post whatever I had [about 'pink
slime'] on the website". Ms. Schafer informed Mr. Long that the information
she had was provided by the Director of Food Services for the Osceola County
School District, Rae Hollenbeck.

The exact "no pink slime" text to appear on the website (see above) was
emailed to Tom Long for his approval prior to publication. Mr. Long then
approved it with a "Thank you".

Please note that it wasn't the Director of Food Services or the Director of
Community Relations who insisted that the "no pink slime" information be
posted on the Osceola School District website. It was Tom Long who made that
decision. The school board didn't make that decision and the superintendent
wasn't involved either. It was Tom Long alone, on his own initiative. He
made the choice to publish the "no pink slime" message entirely on his own.

That's what Tom Long did.

Now here's what he didn't do. He didn't speak to any of the school
district's beef suppliers. He didn't call the Food and Nutrition Service,
the USDA or the National School Lunch Program. He didn't contact the Florida
Department of Education. He didn't even ask Rae Hollenbeck a single
question.

After speaking with Dana Schafer, Tom Long contacted no one else. Thus Mr.
Long apparently put forth no effort whatsoever to verify the accuracy of the
"no pink slime" message prior to its publication on 3/20, even though he
acknowledges being privy to the information I posted on 3/16.

This further demonstrates that not only does Tom Long refuse to answer
questions in public, he doesn't even ask questions in private either.

This lack of due diligence is exactly the same behavior that we witnessed
from Tom Long during the flawed superintendent selection process last year
(see "How to Evaluate Superintendent Candidates",
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/b823adba0ea82768 ). He never
called any candidates or anyone else to ask any questions. He simply
believed whatever was conveyed about the candidates on the internet, no
questions asked.

What questions should Tom Long have asked this time?

Look again at the original request to Tom Long (
http://tinyurl.com/736vadk ) which he acknowledged.

In my 3/16 post there is a reference to a Huffington Post article. That
article in turn has several other references to various facts from the USDA
and other sources. From those sources it is abundantly clear that any school
involved with the National School Lunch Program uses USDA provided ground
beef and all USDA ground beef currently contains "pink slime" (ie. "LFTB").
This is true even though "LFTB" appears nowhere on USDA ground beef labels.

So unless Tom Long has a reading comprehension deficiency, he must have been
well aware of this information before he called Dana Schafer. Yet he asked
no questions at all of Ms. Schafer or Ms. Hollenbeck (or anyone else) prior
to publication of the "no pink slime" message on 3/20.

Before finishing this topic I need to say something more about Rae
Hollenbeck, Director of Food Services for the Osceola County School
District. Rae is one of the most open, sincere and helpful people I have had
the pleasure of speaking to in the Osceola School District. My impression is
that she genuinely cares about the thousands of kids she feeds in our
schools every day. When Rae was made aware of her mistake, she didn't try to
hide it. She did not try to cover it up. She continued to speak to me over
the phone about it and she didn't block my emails either. She was not
evasive at all, unlike some other people associated with the Osceola School
District.

Unlike Tom Long however, Rae Hollenbeck was not aware of the information
that was made available by the Huffington Post. She did not know that the
USDA failed to include LFTB on its ground beef labels. After all, Ms.
Hollenbeck was not hired as an investigator, she was hired to do the best
that she can to feed our kids healthy and nutritional meals day after day
with whatever resources she has available. To be honest, if I was unaware of
the same information, I would likely have made the same mistake. But I WAS
aware of it and so was Tom Long.

The buck stops with Tom Long, not with the Director of Food Services. Tom
Long is the one who insisted on publishing the "no pink slime" statement. He
should have known. Tom Long should have asked questions. He should not have
forced the publication of anything on the Osceola School District website
without checking the facts himself.

As I alluded to above, this matter was brought up during tonight's school
board meeting. Stuart Singer (Rae Hollenbeck's boss) pointed out how the
USDA will now properly label their ground beef, thereby allowing school
districts to decide whether or not to include "pink slime" in our children's
school lunches. When hearing this did Tom Long immediately ask the $64,000
question? Of course not. Remember, Tom Long doesn't ask questions.

Well that's not entirely true. I should have written "If Tom Long asks a
question, it's typically not for the purpose of getting to the truth."

Here's the question that Mr. Long should have asked Mr. Singer:

Will LFTB (aka "pink slime") be
in our students lunches next year?

But here's the question that Mr. Long did ask:

Is there any higher authority than the
United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]?

Mr. Singer answered:

Not known to us.

Mr. Long:

So that's what we relied on.

No, we relied on you Mr. Long. And once again you failed us.

Geo

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Apr 18, 2012, 12:45:15 PM4/18/12
to harm...@googlegroups.com
*** CORRECTION ***

I was confused by various LFTB percentages quoted by the USDA as well as one
reported last night by Stuart Singer.

I wrote:

In fact, our children will likely consume somewhere
between 3300 and 5600 pounds of "pink slime" in Osceola
County schools during the 2011-2012 school year.

I should have written:

In fact, our children will likely consume at least
3360 pounds of "pink slimed" ground beef in Osceola


County schools during the 2011-2012 school year.

These calculations are based on a reported consumption in Osceola schools of
56,000 pounds of USDA ground beef (as of 4/11/2012) and the USDA's estimate
of 6% of the ground beef having been supplied by BPI.

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