Lean finely textured beef, or 'pink slime' beef, can be pulled from school lunches as early as next year, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In an e-mail to districts nationwide, the USDA said it had decided to optionalize the use of the meat by-product as early as next year. The change comes after a flurry of media articles and retail pledges to pull the product off shelves.
Nazareth Area School District, however, is already ahead of the game.
The three companies that supply the district's cafeterias with ground beef have sent letters indicating the products that are served do not contain lean finely textured beef, according to Sharon Ryba, the district's food service director.
The three vendors are JTM Food Group, Tyson and Rich's.
The district also plans to keep future purchases free of lean finely textured beef.
"Given the sensitivity to this issue, the Nazareth School District will be selecting beef items that do not include the lean finely textured beef," Ryba said in an e-mail to Patch.
According to the USDA, finely textured beef is a meat product derived from a process which separates fatty pieces from beef trimmings to reduce the overall fat content.
USDA continues to affirm the safety of lean finely textured beef product for all consumers and urges customers to consult science based information on the safety and quality of this product, the agency says.