The Maine Department of Education said it will no longer buy beef that contains Lean Finely Textured Beef, a cheap beef product known in the meat industry as "pink slime." It is used to bulk up hamburger patties and other ground beef products.
Pink slime is made from low-quality beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill off potential pathogens like E. Coli. Pink slime is widely used in the United States, where it is mixed with ground beef as an inexpensive filler that can be as much as 25 percent of a hamburger patty.
In the wake of media attention about pink slime in school lunches, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced March 15 that schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program will have other beef options to serve schoolchildren in the 2012-2013 school year.
Maine schools get 10 to 15 percent of their food from the USDA, by way of the Maine Department of Education.
"We don't believe anything is wrong with it, but given the public sentiment, we decided to not buy any more of it," said David Connerty-Martin, a spokesman for the department.