Susan Knight, nutrition services manager at the Linn-Mar School District, said neither she, nor the district, nor the USDA can answer affirmatively whether or not lean, finely texturized beef, popularly known as "pink slime," is be being served in the .
"Pink slime" is beef trimmings that have been treated with ammonia. Though the United States Department of Agriculture said that it's perfectly harmless, some critics say it may be unsafe and unappetizing.
Still, Knight said there is no way to know if or how much of the product makes it into student's lunches, due to the fact that the USDA — which is where Linn-Mar gets is beef — does not label it differently from other meats. She added that no parents or students have expressed concern over the use of the meat.
Recently, the USDA has announced that it will be providing alternatives to the meat additive for the next school year, meaning the Linn-Mar School District will not have to use the controversial ingredient.
"At the end of the day, that lean finely textured beef is safe, leaner than the average beef that comes through the beef supply and it is less costly," said Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer sciences at the USDA, in an interview with Radio Iowa. "But, we recognize it is a choice and that is something new we will have this coming school year."
That's in addition to statement last Thursday that they will be discontinuing the use of the beef.
Hy-Vee claimed in a statement that they had notified their beef suppliers and would be changing their usage as soon as possible.
This was good news for one customer, according to the Gazette, but this particular mother said she's ultimately more concerned about what her kids are being fed at school, as she has much more control over what she buys at the supermarket.
"It’s nice that it’s out of (Hy-Vee), but it’d be better if it was out of the school district," said 34-year-old Cedar Rapids resident Sarah Oviatt.
Correction: A previous version of the story stated that the Linn-Mar School District uses finely textured beef. The Linn-Mar School District recives its beef from the USDA, who does produce the beef in question and ships it to schools. However since they do not label the ammonia treated beef differently, the school has no way of knowing if or how much they recieve. Marion Patch regrets the error.