The nation's school districts are turning up their noses at "pink slime"—well, most of them. The USDA says only three states participating in its National School Lunch Program—Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota—have chosen to order ground beef that may contain the product known as lean finely textured beef. In response to the public outcry over its use, the USDA said in March said that it would for the first time offer schools the choice to purchase beef without the filler for the coming 2012-2013 school year.
The agency has continued to affirm that lean finely textured beef is a safe, affordable, and nutritious product. But as of May 18, the agency says states ordered more than 20 million pounds of ground beef products that don't contain lean finely textured beef, compared to just 1 million pounds that may contain the filler. The pink-slimeless beef is expected to cost 3% more. About 60% of the ground beef acquired by schools was through the USDA's National School Lunch Program; the rest is purchased by schools or school districts directly through private vendors. (Read more pink slime stories.)