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Is 'Pink Slime' on The Menu in Salem Schools?

Superintendent says he thinks the issue is being overblown.

Salem's school superintendent says boneless lean beef trimmings, also known as "pink slime," are probably being served in Salem school lunches, but he doesn't think there is any health risk to students.

Superintendent Michael Delahanty said Salem schools purchase their beef from state Surplus Distribution, which gets the meat from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which reportedly bought 7 million pounds of the so-called pink slime for the National School Lunch Program.

"There's no way of knowing, but yes, we're serving meat that probably has the product in it," he said.

Pink slime is a mixture of meat trimmings that are forcefully removed from bones and then exposed to ammonia gas in order to kill bacteria such as E. Coli. The result is a cheap product that can be mixed with beef products.

In response to public outcry, the USDA announced last week that it would allow schools in the National School Lunch Program to opt out of producers with the treated beef mixture. The agency still contends that the beef trimmings are "safe, nutritious and affordable" and have been used since the early 1990s.

Since the Salem school district's beef provider gets its meat from the USDA, Delahanty said there probably is some pink slime being served in the district's school lunches. But unlike , he said he has no plans to pull ground beef from school lunch menus at this point.

"I have not made any decision to pull hamburgers or any meals that have ground beef," he said. "In some respects, I think this is a knee-jerk reaction. LBT has been part of beef since the early '90s. We don't know that it has any side effects."

That said, Delahanty said he will take a close look at the consequences of continuing to use beef containing pink slime, and if there is determined to be a health risk, the school district will stop using it. But most likely, the beef containing lean beef trimmings will continue to be served for the rest of this school year.

He said the district has already been given the option by the USDA to buy beef without the lean beef trimmings, though he said there is an added expense associated with that decision.

"Looking forward, I will certainly consider seriously the impllications of purchasing with our without this," Delahanty said. "I would lean toward purchasing without, simply for the peace of mind it would offer. Not only school people, but certainly parents."

Bruce Toker March 21, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Michele, what are meat scraps? If they are not connective tissue, what are they? I'm sure the kids never eat at the fast food places, who knows what's in that. A hamburger fro McDonalds certainly does not taste like any sort of meat. Do you think that the cororful name bestowed on it has anything to do with peoples panic over this? I think if you called native salmon "pink slime" there would be some aversion to it also. Personally, I think the "gray matter" is much more of an issue. When they process scraps they run it through a "bone squeezer", which in some cases crushes the bones, which in turn squeezes marrow "gray matter" into the product. All the ammonium hydroxide in the world won't kill prions, which have a far more debilitating effect on health. Think "Mad Cow" and I ain't talkin about Rosie O'donnel!
Michele Brown O'Neill March 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Meat scraps from what I understand are the fatty inedible beef trimmings. I have not seen information regarding "bone squeezing". If anyone is concerned about this, they can grind meat in a food processor with a metal blade. Some fast food restaurants use LBT and some don't. I think the panic is related to the fact that people were unaware they were consuming connective tissue and fatty inedible beef trimmings, treated with a chemical and labeled as ground beef.
Salem Tax March 22, 2012 at 04:38 PM
This seems to be a subject matter that the Director of Food Services should be addressing rather than the Superintendent. It seems that there are more pressing matters in the school district that he needs to attend to. A letter home to parents with the school district's position on this matter is in order, but it should be from the food service dept. This is a cause the S.O.S. group should rally behind, seems with all the decay the children must be subjected to in the buildings due to deferred maintenance, the menu served should be slime free..
Don Duston March 22, 2012 at 04:50 PM
The Superintendent has no clue what a pressing matter is. When I think about the definition of the word slime, SOS does comes to mind.
Bruce Toker March 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Look at the ingredient label on a package of cheap chorizo sometime: ground lymph nodes and salivary glands. YUM!!!!!! (but it sure does taste good)

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