Local school districts investigate "pink slime"

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Local school districts investigate "pink slime"

CREATED Mar 15, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - It sounds like something out of a 1950's horror movie, but it's the talk of the nation when it comes to food.  Thursday, the U.S Department of Agriculture gave schools the power to decide whether or not they feed beef that includes "pink slime" to children.

It's a meat filler found in some ground beef made of low-grade trimmings that have been heated, separated from fat, and sprayed with ammonia to kill germs.  For Kent Koecheler, a butcher of 30 years, it's something he would never want to sell.

"Why is that in the food?" he asked, "You've got stuff that should be thrown away that they're washing with ammonia and then adding it to ground beef to sell?  No."

It's the same concern parents are expressing when it comes to school lunch.  Now that the USDA offered schools an "opt out," 9 On Your Side reporter Jessica Chapin asked what local districts are deciding.

"We will," said Flowing Wells School District superintendent Nick Clement, "Given the opportunity we will opt out of that."

Clement said as soon as they heard they called the USDA and other suppliers to investigate.  They are still waiting to hear back a definite answer regarding their specific orders and alternatives.

"We want assurances from the USDA and any other supplier that the food we're getting for our kids is safe," he said.

Other districts expressed the same viewpoint.  Tucson Unified School District representatives say the meat they serve does not include the filler.  The Amphitheater  and Tanque Verde districts are also investigating the issue.

"If we have the option of opting out we'll do so if he have another viable option," said Tanque Verde superintendent Doug Price.  He also added they were waiting to hear back from their suppliers.

9 On Your Side also called USDA representatives to find out if there are any health concerns related to the filler, but is still waiting for an answer.