The makers of pink slime are on the run. One slime producer, AFA Foods Inc. has filed for bankruptcy; another, Beef Products Inc., is closing plants.
… only in the last few weeks has pink slime captured the national consumer consciousness, and in doing so provided us with just the latest example of how quickly social media grass fires can become conflagrations with real dollar-and-cents consequences. On March 5, the Daily reported that the USDA was holding firm to its plans to buy 7 million pounds of pink slime for its national school lunch program. The very next day Bettina Siegel, a blogger who writes extensively about food and kids, created a petition on Change.org titled “Tell USDA to Stop Using Pink Slime in School Food.” Within a week the petition had over 200,000 signatories and an Internet frenzy had been born.
Fox News columnist Dan Gainor would have us believe that the real villain here is ABC News, which jumped on the anti-pink slime bandwagon with particular passion, but make no mistake, “pink slime” is a semantic framing that was born for the Twitter era. When you have only 140 characters to spread the news, “pink slime” packs all the wallop you need. The process itself, in which fatty trimmings left over at the slaughterhouse are heated, disintegrated via centrifuge, and then dosed with ammonia, is easy to express in a simple Facebook illustration. We saw it with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and we saw it with SOPA — when the social media masses get a bee in their bonnet, they can’t be stopped.