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Ground beef off the menu at Galt elementary schools

United States Department of Agriculture unable to confirm whether or not the meat contained ‘pink slime’

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Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:00 am, Fri Mar 30, 2012.

The Galt Joint Union Elementary School District will no longer serve ground beef in its cafeterias after the United States Department of Agriculture was unable to confirm whether or not it contained the meat cut commonly known as "pink slime."

While the official name is "lean finely textured beef," or LFTB, critics who dubbed it pink slime say it's an unappetizing example of industrialized food production. The term was coined by a federal microbiologist who was grossed out by it, but the product meets federal food safety standards and has been used for years in not only school cafeterias but large chain food establishments.

Galt elementary is the only major school district in the area whose suppliers have recently used the ingredient.

Warren Sun, who oversees food services for Lodi Unified School District, said its cafeterias do not use any "pink slime" beef products.

Advance Pierre and Don Lee Farms, the companies that process both Lodi Unified and Galt Joint Union High School District's USDA raw beef products, have claimed that they do not accept any beef that has been treated with ammonia, according to Sun.

Susan Stewart, food services director for the Galt high school district, said she would have been contacted through the state Department of Education Nutrition Services if there were concerns with the meat it serves.

According to a letter sent to Galt elementary's food services supervisor, the USDA cannot identify the cartons containing LFTB, as it is beef and does not require separate identification. Within a truckload, some cases may contain LFTB and some may not.

Since the USDA does not consider this a food safety or quality issue, it is not offering reimbursement or replacement of beef products.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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