The food industry calls it "lean, finely textured beef," but it's the nickname "pink slime" that has caught people's attention. Brian Giles, head of HISD's Food Services, explains what it actually is.
"It is basically machine carved beef, and it's treated with a substance known as ammonium hydroxide to make it a little bit more lean, and then it's included with the final product in some beef. Some producers use it to make beef more lean, but to other producers they see it as simply a filler."
This food additive is approved by the USDA and has apparently been used for years. That is until pink slime started making national news . Since then, Target, Costco HEB and Central Market have released statements saying they will not sell beef that contains the product. Whole Foods says it has never used the additive.
After some calls by concerned parents, HISD asked its beef suppliers if they were using the lean, textured beef.
"We have basically three vendors who supply our USDA ground beef: two here in Texas and one in California. And we reached out to them and simply asked the question 'do you use the lean, finely textured beef?' and they responded in writing that no, they do not."
The beef additive is not known to have any negative health effects. And if it weren't for the nickname "pink slime," it's questionable how many people would be complaining. So that begs the question, where the nickname "pink slime" come from in the first place?
"The story goes that a food scientist with the government years ago had actually felt like he couldn't really call it 'real beef,' that it was actually like a pink slime, and I think that's where the name came from."
Whether you call it "finely textured beef" or "pink slime," the bottom line is students in the Houston Independent School District aren't eating it.