A friend and fellow sustainable food activist wrote on Facebook the other day, “Pink slime is old news. #justsayin.”


I commented back that it’s “old news in the circles and blogs that we hang around, but it's really just beginning to proliferate the mainstream.” I’m sure people who are regular readers of this blog knew what pink slime was before it hit the mainstream media last week, but many people didn’t.


As I told you last Friday, the USDA announced that it was going to purchase 7 million pounds of pink slime, or "lean finely textured beef" as its makers call it, for our nation’s school lunches next year. When that was announced, the mainstream media ran with the story, and it got attentions.


Enough people were upset about it that a petition on Change.org, which was started on March 7, already has more than 223,000 signatures. The petition asks Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “put an immediate stop to the use of ‘pink slime’ in our children’s school food.”


Looks as if the USDA is trying to head off an all-out “immediate stop” by giving schools options. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting that an anonymous source says the USDA is expected to make an announcement about it today.


Under the change to be announced Thursday, schools will be able to choose between 95 percent lean beef patties made with the product or less lean bulk ground beef without it. The new policy won't affect ground beef at schools until this fall because of existing contracts, according to a USDA official with knowledge of the decision.

If this choice is actually given to schools, I’ll be talking with my district Nutrition Advisory Council about seriously looking into the “less lean bulk ground beef” without pink slime. Will you be doing the same in your school district?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Pink slime: Schools to get option to take it or leave it
The USDA is expected to announce that schools will be able to request beef patties with or without the controversial filler.