Pink Slime


By Jane Zankman, Production Editor

MCPS has announced that it will stop serving the meat product known as “pink slime” during the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.

“Pink slime,” otherwise known as lean finely texturized beef (LFTB), is beef trimmings that have been run through a heated centrifuge to separate the fat from the meat and then given a puff of ammonium hydroxide to kill off bacteria.

“The maximum allowable percentage of LFTB that may be formulated into single servings of ground beef purchased for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is 15 percent,” USDA spokesman Aaron Lavallee said. “This is similar to the composition found in many commercially available ground beef products.”

According to MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig, MCPS uses multiple vendors for their meat, and only one of them may use processers that use LFTB.

“Once the concerns about it were brought to our attention, a decision was made to stop purchasing or accepting any products with LFTB in it,” Tofig said.

Other school districts including Fairfax County Public Schools and New York City Public Schools have also announced they will no longer use LFTB.

The campaign against “pink slime” started with ABC celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution when in a 2011 episode he demonstrated how the beef companies create pink slime.

According to the website, created by Beef Products Inc. (BPI), LFTB is not harmful because ammonium hydroxide was deemed safe by the FDA in 1974.

However, according to, created by Oliver’s Food Revolution Team to advocate against the use of LFTB, the federal government should end the use of pink slime because it is unsafe and has supposedly been used as dog food in the past.

“Beef supplied by BPI for the NSLP is not exempt from the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) strict pathogen testing requirements,” Lavallee said, referring to the tests performed to ensure the meat is not contaminated with E. coli, salmonella and other foodborne pathogens.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine also recently introduced the Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef Act (REAL Beef Act) which would require nutritional information to state whether LFTB and ammonium hydroxide is included in the meat product.

“I think that it should be displayed because some people may not want to eat it,” sophomore Lily Wang said. “If it is not, then the people might not know what they are ingesting.”