A year after controversy and misconceptions led to lean fine-textured beef being ousted out of many schools and supermarkets, the product produced by BPI is slowly making a comeback. For the new school year, schools in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Texas are once again buying the product, reports the Sioux City Journal via the news site Politico. The website cited government data in the initial report.

When the uproar over LFTB, named “pink slime” by its critics, struck, it was estimated that BPI lost about 95 percent f its school lunch business. The USDA, under pressure from parents, gave schools the option of purchasing ground beef that did or did not include LFTB. Only schools in three states – Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota – purchased the beef with LFTB. All three states continued to buy the product this year.

"We are pleased that these additional states have opted to provide this choice to their school districts," Craig Letch, BPI's director of food safety and quality assurance, said in a statement. "The USDA has repeatedly affirmed that lean finely textured beef is safe, wholesome, and nutritious 100 percent lean beef."

Lincoln Public Schools is one of the districts that continues to use the product. “I personally don't have a problem with it," said Edith Zumwalt, director of nutrition services at LPS. "I feel that it's safe and I feel that it's a good use of beef, that it's gotten lot of bad hype.”

She attended a meeting with University of Nebraska-Lincoln animal science staff, who confirmed her opinion.

The change of heart by schools in the four other states appears driven by budgets. Industry officials estimate the trimmings reduce costs of ground beef by 3 to 10 cents per pound. The saving adds up for districts facing tight fiscal constraints under new national school nutrition standards.

Byran Black, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Agriculture, told Politico his state has not changed its policy on LFTB. "It has always remained the same. It's a local decision. Schools have the option to request the type of beef they want to serve and USDA fulfills those orders," Black said.

Source: Sioux City Journal