Pink slime purveyor Beef Products, Inc. may have officially closed three pink slime factories, but the meat product is still a hot topic in schools.
The USDA reports that most states participating in the National School Lunch program opted for beef that doesn't contain what is known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef."
The USDA does not buy finely textured beef directly from manufacturers, instead buying beef from producers who add in the filler.
Only three states opted for beef that may contain the ammonia-treated beef: Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Meanwhile, the USDA stands by its stance that the pink slime is safe, nutritious, and affordable, while other advocates have noted the potential job loss from cutting pink slime completely, plus the amount of meat that will be subsequently wasted.
Nebraska officials have defended their decision to keep the filler, with spokeswoman Kathie Osterman saying, "This isn't an additive. It isn't a filler. It's beef. And it's beef that makes the product leaner."
In the past, Iowa governor Terry Branstad called the media hype against pink slime "a smear campaign." Branstad, along with Texas Governor Rick Perry, Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy, and South Dakota Lt. Governor Matt Michels, toured a BPI plant back in March.
All four governors agree that pink slime has been unfairly mislabeled, believing the product to be safe.
BPI, however, seems rather resigned. "Based upon the misrepresentations that have been pervasive in the media to this point, it comes as no surprise that the majority of states have currently elected to purchase ground beef that does not contain lean finely textured beef," Craig Letch, director of food safety and quality, said in a statement.