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March 18. 2012 10:39PM

In Nashua, school lunches don't include ‘pink slime'

NASHUA — After news alerts surfaced about “pink slime” being used in McDonald's beef and some school lunch meat, city officials are reassuring parents that ammonia hydroxide is not used by Nashua school lunch providers.

“When I heard the news reports about the ‘pink slime' in the ground beef, I wanted to immediately find out if the ground beef we use contains the pink slime mentioned,” said Jeanette L. Kimbell, food service director for the school district. “Thankfully, what I found out from our ground beef manufacturers is the ground beef we purchase does not have this ingredient added.”

The USDA announced last week that starting this fall, schools enrolled in the national school lunch program will have the choice not to use the byproduct.

Nashua's school district purchases meat from Costa Fruit & Produce Company, Inc., selecting the AdvancePierre Foods brand.

In a letter sent last month to the school district, AdvancePierre Foods states that even though the process of using ammonia hydroxide to manufacture lean finely textured beef is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, AdvancePierre Foods previously decided not to purchase ammonia-treated beef for use in its school products.

Robert Hallowell, president of the Board of Education, said last week that some school board members have heard from constituents worried that the school beef may contain the substance.

“I know a number of parents who are concerned about this,” said Hallowell. “But fortunately we don't have that problem in Nashua.”

Mutual Beef Co. of Boston, Mass., supplies Costa Fruit & Produce with meat that is then distributed to the Nashua school district. In a letter from Mutual Beef Co. to Costa Fruit & Produce, President Augustus Martucci says, “We do not and have never used any product that contains ammonium hydroxide in our ground beef.”

The letter goes on to say that USDA-inspected facilities are allowed to use up to five percent of ammonia hydroxide without having to declare it on the label, but stressed it is still not being used at their plant.

Kimbell also contacted the New Hampshire Commodity Food Program, which also confirmed that it does not add ammonia hydroxide to its ground beef products.

Superintendent Mark Conrad said he was pleased to learn that none of the school beef suppliers use the so-called pink slime.

“As soon as I heard about this issue I wanted to get on top of it right away,” added Conrad.

Last month, McDonald's announced it will be discontinuing use of the meat product — boneless lean beef trimmings treated with ammonium hydroxide. The byproduct was publicly referred to as “pink slime” by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.


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