WASHINGTON — Most states participating in the National School Lunch Program have ordered ground beef that does not contain a product known as lean, finely textured beef in the industry, but dubbed “pink slime,” by a former government employee interviewed this spring by ABC News.
In the midst of an uproar after the filler received such a derisive nickname, the USDA said it would, for the first time, offer schools the option to purchase beef for the coming school year that does not contain the filler.
According to the USDA, only three states — Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota — chose to order beef that may contain the filler.
The product, made from small bits of beef heated and treated with ammonia gas to kill bacteria, has been used for years. But even though federal regulators have said the product is safe to eat, many supermarkets and fast-food chains have announced they will not use ground beef containing the filler. Some said they never had.
At the time the uproar was in high gear, American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle defended the ingredient in a public statement, describing it as “a safe, wholesome and nutritious form of beef.”