Schools that get their ground beef from the federal government will now have the option of buying it with or without a product that has been dubbed “pink slime.”
Never have schools known whether the ground beef procured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use in school lunches contained the ingredient, known in the food industry as “Lean Finely Textured Beef.”
Lean finely textured beef is a “product derived from beef-fat trimmings,” researchers at Iowa State University wrote in a report about its use in processed meat. They add that “while it is high in total protein, the LFTB contains more serum and connective-tissue proteins and less myofibrillar proteins than muscle meat.” Since it’s not made from muscle, it isn’t considered meat by some food experts.
In addition, the product is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill some strains of E. coli and salmonella bacteria, although a story in The New York Times three years ago raised questions about the effectiveness of ammonia in curbing the spread of E. coli and salmonella.