Schools Say Goodbye to “Pink Slime” Ground Beef Byproduct

The USDA has just announced that school districts can opt out of purchasing “lean finely textured beef,” an ammonia-treated meat byproduct, after thousands of parents signed a petition.

It looks more like the psychomagnotheric slime from Ghostbusters II than something you want going into your mouth—let alone a young child’s.

But for many years, the meat byproduct officially known as “lean finely textured beef,” and more unofficially known as “pink slime” has been a regular staple on the menu at school cafeterias throughout the United States. The slimy substance consists of bits of meat left over from other cuts, ground together, then dosed with ammonia to kill bacteria.

Many parents and food activists want to put a stop to serving pink slime in school lunches. Last week, blogger Bettina Siegel of The Lunch Tray posted a petition to the government, asking the USDA to stop selling the substance to public schools. Within a week, she had more than 200,000 signatures—and, by Day 9, the outpouring of anti-slime sentiment had caused the government to change its stance.

Today, the USDA announced that it would allow schools the option to “opt out” of purchasing the beef byproduct. Starting in September, schools can choose whether they want to purchase beef with the byproduct or without.

“School districts have made requests and school districts want, basically, choice,” said an anonymous USDA source. “And we respect that, they’re our customers.”

Though some are disappointed that the government isn’t going as far as an outright ban, chances are, most parents will be putting pressure on their districts to steer clear of the substance.

And, after watching this Jamie Oliver clip, you will too.


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