Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Season 2, Episode 1: Ammonia in Hamburger Meat and Sugar Laden Milk

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is off and running for another season. Season 2 puts him in Los Angeles California. So far, it has been very difficult for Jamie to get access to any of the schools in the Los Angeles School District. Here are some of the most poignant moments from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Season 2, Episode 1.

Oliver had children bring in some of the food choices they were given at school. Everything was wrapped in plastic. There was fruit in syrup, breakfast donuts and lots of microwaveable entrees. Nothing shown was food I would feel comfortable feeding my child.

One of the most revealing segments of the show was when Jamie brought in a cow to show kids and parents where school lunchmeat was coming from. He then showed how these leftovers of a cow or the “trimmings,” were used to make “meat.” In any decent restaurant these leftovers would be thrown away. In other words, this food is not fit for human consumption. Yet, Jamie showed how the meat parts were removed from the trimmings in a spinner and then washed in an ammonia solution. This is done to prevent E coli and salmonella poisoning and reduce other bacterial threats. And, for this reason, the USDA allows this ammonia washing to occur.

Furthermore, this “meat” filler can be used in up to fifteen percent of meat. The percentage is low enough that the package does not have to indicate ammonia is one of the ingredients a person is consuming. It is this ammonia-laden meat that is also used in school food.

It strikes me as funny that people that are in charge of food services encourage flavored milk to be served in schools. The rationale is that children are much less likely to drink milk if it is simply regular milk. This thought process is problematic because, of course, many children are going to choose sugary milk over regular milk. However, if we don’t give flavored milk to our children, then they won’t know any difference between strawberry and plain milk. Milk will simply be milk.

One eight ounce serving of flavored milk has 28 grams of sugar in it. To illustrate the amount of sugar that kids in LAUSD consume in one week, Jamie Oliver filled up a bus with sugar. The amount equated with the amount of sugar in the flavored milk. It was amazing to see the amount of sugar kids were drinking each week. There was so much sugar, it started pouring out of the windows.

One of the other interesting aspects of the show was how some people really do not care where their meat comes from and what is in their meat. This attitude was displayed through Jamie’s interactions with an owner of an independent fast food joint in Los Angeles. Jamie had made him a new burger with healthier ingredients and a far better nutritional makeup. While the owner agreed it was good, he was not willing to use the new burger because it cost too much. While it is a shame, the owner is right in that he would lose money. Typically, people do not go to fast food places for quality food.

Oliver’s show reveals a glaring problem with cafeteria food and, in general, our attitude towards food. Yet, it also shows the problem when schools become responsible for not only educating and nurturing children, but also feeding them. Instead of children bringing a lunch from home, the schools have become responsible for the nutritional intake of children. This is a huge responsibility. Yet, if LAUSD are going to continue to undertake feeding the children of Los Angeles, they need to do a better job. Hopefully, throughout the season, Oliver can help both the schools and the community become healthier.


Hulu.com: Episode 1 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution