After one of the worst public relations debacles in recent history, all but three states have unsurprisingly opted to drop “pink slime” from their school lunch programs.
The Associated Press reports that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that only Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska will be serving up beef containing pink slime to students as part of the National School Lunch Program.
Pink slime is the commonly used moniker to describe ground beef with added lean, finely textured beef (LFTB). The filler is made by heating fatty bits of beef, then spraying the small pieces with ammonia. The intent is to kill bacteria and cut the fat content of the meat. It also saves producers money—cheap cuts mean more profit.
After the nickname “pink slime” was coined in a 2009 New York Times article, public outcry over the product grew, forcing the USDA to offer schools the choice of using pink slime in their National School Lunch Programs for the 2012-2013 school year. Though the USDA has continued to assert the lean, finely textured beef is safe and nutritious, parents were understandably concerned, and most districts bowed to the pressure.
States have ordered more than 20 million pounds of ground beef products that don’t contain lean, finely textured beef as of May 18, reports the Associated Press, while orders for beef that may contain the filler came to about 1 million pounds.
Don’t rest easy yet. School districts might be getting wise, but consumers are still eating much more pink slime than they realize. USDA scientists estimate 70 percent of ground beef sold in supermarkets contains the stuff, reports ABC News. Want to cut out pink slime completely? Buy organic beef, which by law can’t include LFTB.
Are you still eating pink slime? Would you let your kids eat it?