Based in part on the recent upheaval over “pink slime” or what the meat industry calls lean finely textured beef – a processed meat filler that experts say has found its way into much of the ground beef consumed in the United States, the USDA recently announced that it will offer more choices to schools in the National School Lunch Program when it comes to purchases of ground beef products.
According to the USDA, it only purchases products for the school lunch program that are safe, nutritious and affordable – including all products containing lean finely textured beef.
But some school lunch officials beg to differ and so due to customer demand, the department will be adjusting procurement specifications for the next school year so schools can have additional options in procuring ground beef products. USDA will provide schools with a choice to order product either with or without lean finely textured beef.
Lean finely textured beef is a meat product derived from a process, which separates fatty pieces from beef trimmings to reduce the overall fat content.
While USDA sets national nutritional guidelines for school meals, school districts make local decisions on what food to feed kids to meet these guidelines.
On average, schools in the National School Lunch Program purchase approximately 20 percent of their food through USDA, and approximately 80 percent of food served is purchased directly by schools or school districts through private vendors.