Some are seeing red over “pink slime.”
The uproar continues over lean finely textured beef, which has been used for decades in meat processing to prevent E-coli contamination.
“It is beef and they go through a process to remove the fat tissue and they go through a process to remove that and then add that into the ground beef,” said Jeni Tackett, RD LD, with Trinity Regional Health System.
But, it’s come under fire recently and for the first time ever the U.S. Department of Agriculture has given schools the option to purchase beef that doesn’t contain the filler.
According to the USDA, Iowa is among three states that will possibly still serve it up next school year as a part of the National School Lunch Program.
South Dakota and Nebraska will also.
Most states opted out altogether of serving the beef byproduct.
Davenport Public Schools will continue to serve it.
“It’s generally recognized as safe and it’s inspected by the USDA, so we consider it safe in the food supply here,” said Micki Carrington, head of Food and Nutrition Services for Davenport Public Schools.
There is a federal cap of 15-percent on the amount of filler that can be contained in a single product.
But, Carrington says there’s no way to know exactly the amount that’s being served up in schools.
“We really don’t know because in order to find out you have to contact direct manufacturers and it’s hard to go all the way back because they might have purchased beef that might have had it in it,” she said.
While the unknowns might scare some parents, some nutrition experts say the focus should be on something else.
“How can we start using more whole food and promoting more fruits and vegetables and meats that haven’t been through the ringer because those are healthier for all of us,” said Tackett.
Bettendorf Public Schools head nutritionist, Cindy Jacobsen, tells us she doesn’t want to continue to purchase ground beef that contains the so-called “pink slime.”
She says, according to an email she received in March from the State of Iowa, the ground beef will not contain this filler.
No one with the state got back with us.