Pink slime is totally real and it’s coming to a school district near you (possibly). Politico reports that the lean and finely textured beef (LFTB) has planned its return for the 2013-2014 school year in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas, joining Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, which have all been serving the product since last year.
LFTB, which is made from the scraps of cattle carcasses deemed too fatty for human food and mixed in with freshly ground USDA-grade beef, is a very tempting purchase for schools that are grappling with both an extra tight budget and the skyrocketing cost of beef. Most schools and restaurants — including McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King — shied away from LFTB back in 2010 in the wake of a late 2009 investigative reporting piece published by The New York Times that revealed LFTB was connected with high levels of E.coli, dubbing it unsafe for consumption.
While that piece won its author a Pulitzer, there are still those in the food and meat industries who swear the product is safe. Craig Letch, director of food safety and quality assurance for Beef Products Inc., the largest manufacturer of LFTB says, “USDA has repeatedly affirmed that lean finely textured beef is safe, wholesome, and nutritious 100% lean beef. With the successful use of LFTB by [USDA’s National School Lunch Program] over the last 15 years, we are confident that these states and school districts will enjoy both quality and cost improvements. This will ultimately enable them to provide more nutritious lean beef to their children.”