No ‘pink slime’ for Duluth, Proctor school lunchesAt least two area school districts refuse to serve “pink slime” to their students.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
At least two area school districts refuse to serve “pink slime” to their students.
Officials with both the Duluth and Proctor school districts said the schools don’t order the ground beef that is extended with filler made from beef renderings and treated with ammonia hydroxide.
“Since September 2010, we’ve used Jennie-O ground turkey from Upper Lakes Foods in place of commodity beef,” said Pam Bowe, head of child nutrition services for the Duluth school district. “Our ground beef patties also come from commercial vendors such as Upper Lakes Foods and Advance Pierre Foods. When this (news) came out, we checked with our vendors to see if they use this product, and they do not.”
Upper Lakes Foods could not be reached for comment.
After a public uproar sparked by a Houston parent’s online petition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday backed off the federal school lunch program’s use of “pink slime” by letting school districts decide whether to accept the controversial beef product. The USDA says the product is safe.
“USDA only purchases products for the school lunch program that are safe, nutritious and affordable — including all products
containing Lean Finely Textured Beef,” as pink slime is officially known, the department said in a statement.
“However, due to customer demand, the department will be adjusting procurement specifications for the next school year so schools can have additional options in procuring ground beef products,” the statement said. “USDA will provide schools with a choice to order product either with or without Lean Finely Textured Beef.”
Proctor Public Schools doesn’t purchase finely ground beef from the USDA, said Liz McLaughlin, food service coordinator for the district.
“When we order (beef) you have the option to choose,” she said.
The USDA, roiled by more than 225,000 signatures on the online petition that was launched in early March as well as the ongoing publicity, made its decision in advance of the April purchase order for the fall’s school lunch program. About 32 million children are fed each day in the government’s lunch program.
The company that developed the processing technique, Beef Products Inc. of Dakota Dunes, S.D., said in a statement that “we produce lean beef from trim. Trim is the meat and fat that is trimmed away when beef is cut into steaks and roasts. This lean beef is used in hamburger, sausage, ground beef, and as a valuable ingredient in many other foods. We use a natural compound — called ammonium hydroxide, which is widely used in the processing of numerous foods, such as baked goods, cheeses, gelatins, chocolate, caramels and puddings — to slightly increase the pH level in beef and improve its safety.”
Consumers, however, have reacted sharply when they learn about pink slime and that fast food chains McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell have stopped using it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.