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School board votes to donate 'pink slime'

MANCHESTER — Attention charities: More than 13,000 pounds of &#';pink slime&#'; is yours for the taking.

The Board of School Committee voted Monday to authorize the district&#';s food services department to donate the boxes of ground beef that have been sitting in its freezers since the spring, when the controversy erupted over the ammonia hydroxide-treated meat, dubbed &#';pink slime.&#';

Food and Nutrition Services Director Jim Connors told the committee that the beef, used primarily in hamburger patties, was supplied free by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the district paying shipping costs. The current stock, estimated at 13,000 to 14,000 pounds, cost $800 to ship, according to Connors.

&#';My understanding is this has been the procedure for years,&#'; Connors said of the USDA providing the meat. &#';It&#';s only in March that it became controversial due to public opinion.&#';

The USDA has approved the beef product for human consumption, however, many school districts stopped serving the product in response to revelations about how the meat was chemically treated and processed.

The committee voted 8-5 to authorize the donation.

Mayor Ted Gatsas and committee member John Avard were among those in the opposition.

&#';If we&#';re not willing to use it in our own schools, it&#';s inappropriate to say someone from another socioeconomic group should be eating the same thing,&#'; Avard said.

Connors did not specify what charities might be interested in the beef, however, other communities have donated the beef to food banks.

The New Hampshire Food Bank has taken donations of the beef from other school districts, according to Executive Director Melanie Gosselin.

&#';We haven&#';t had any issues with it, but it&#';s up to the consumer,&#'; she said. &#';It&#';s clearly stated what the product is.&#';

She added that the beef isn&#';t marked &#';pink slime,&#'; but it&#';s clear that the beef comes from school cafeterias.

Connors said that since the outcry over &#';pink slime,&#'; the district has been getting its beef from other vendors.

&#';We&#';ve had to scale back our menu because we&#';ve have to buy beef at market price,&#'; he said.

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Ted Seifer may be reached at tseifer@unionleader.com.

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