Only 3 States Decided to Keep Pink Slime in School Lunches

The USDA announced that most states opted for pink slime-less ground beef

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.

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Tomc's picture

In the interest of full disclosure, I will start off buy stating I work in beef production and have first hand knowledge of how "pink slime" or Lean Finely Textured Beef, as it correctly known, is produced.

While I fully support the rights of all, whether it be grocers, restaurants, or schools, to choose what forms of ground beef they offer, I cannot help but believe these choices may are made based on inaccurate information portrayed in the media. The beef trimmings used to make LFTB must meet the same USDA inspection standards as those used to make ground beef. The only difference between the trimmings used to make ground beef, as we the consumer recognizes it, and the trimmings used to make LFTB is the lean beef to fat ratio. LFTB starts by using higher fat trimmings containing no bones, no tendons, and no organs. To achieve the higher lean ground beef that we all desire economically, the lean is separated from the fat and the lean is added back into the ground beef. The process of separating lean from fat is accomplished with centrifugal force similar to separating cream from milk.

There have been countless food safety and food science experts come forward in support of this product. I have yet to see a single expert come forward to say this product is anything but safe and nutritious.

Given my field of work, my beliefs may be construed as bias, but they are just that, my beliefs and do not reflect the official standings of any others.

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