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Pink Slime and Ham: School Meal Disasters

Pink slime and ham sounds like one of Dr. Seuss’ concoctions. But it’s what schools across the country are serving to children. PCRM’s new Five Worst School Breakfasts report and our pink slime letter to First Lady Michelle Obama reveal the unhealthful details.

The Five Worst School Breakfasts report found that 93 percent of surveyed schools regularly serve breakfasts featuring processed meats such as ham, which increase the risk of diabetes and cancer later in life. All five items featured in the report contain more cholesterol, calories from fat, or sodium than a child should consume for breakfast, according to the Institute of Medicine.

The report was featured on TV and radio stations across the country, reaching more than 2.5 million people.

The Five Worst School Breakfast Items are:

Five Worst School Breakfasts Nutrition Shocker
Food Nutrition Shocker
Ham, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit 1,792 milligrams of sodium—more than some children should consume in an entire day—and more calories and saturated fat than a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
Cheesy Scrambled Eggs Derives 63 percent of calories from fat
Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Whole-Grain Sandwich More sodium than Burger King’s BK Breakfast Muffin Sandwich with sausage, egg, and cheese
Maple-Flavored Pork Pancake Wrap More calories, fat, and saturated fat than IHOP’s Jr. Scrambled Egg & Pancake breakfast
Glazed Raised Donut Derives 50 percent of calories from fat

Unhealthful school meals aren’t limited to breakfasts. PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., recently wrote to First Lady Michelle Obama and asked her to take action against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent purchase of 7 million pounds of “pink slime” for school lunches.

“As a physician, I am appalled that the federal government would serve this disturbingly unhealthy, chemically-treated substance in school lunch lines. Pink slime is not food,” wrote Dr. Barnard. “It is made by grinding up scraps of fatty beef and connective tissue and is treated with ammonia hydroxide—a chemical used in household cleaners and fertilizers—to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It is used as filler for hamburger patties.”

To read the school breakfast report and Dr. Barnard’s letter, visit


Five Worst School Breakfasts

PCRM’s new Five Worst School Breakfasts report >

PCRM's pink slime letter to First Lady Michelle Obama >

PCRM Online,
April 2012

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