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Fairfield Schools To Cut 'Pink Slime' from Menu

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s Public Schools still have beef containing the so-called “pink slime.” But by next fall, the food additive will be gone from Fairfield’s cafeterias.

“We just feel that it would be better for the district and the students not to have that food additive,” said Joann Fitzpatrick, who manages the Fairfield Public Schools’ Food Services department.

News reports emerged last month about the process of manufacturing lean finely textured beef, or “pink slime.” The food product is made from the trimmings leftover from making other cuts of beef. The pieces are spun in a centrifuge to separate the lean meat from the fat and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria.

The mixture is then added to larger batches of traditionally made ground beef. Some mixes contain as much as 10 percent to 15 percent lean finely textured beef.

News reports on the manufacturing process have prompted a demand for companies to stop using the product. Walmart and McDonald’s are among those that have announced that they will no longer use ground beef that contains lean finely textured beef.

Since news outlets began reporting about the product last month, Fitzpatrick says her office has received “a small amount of calls” from parents asking about the product’s presence in Fairfield’s lunches. She stressed that lean finely textured beef has been ruled completely safe by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“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 said in a statement last month.

The USDA announced March 15 that it would give schools on the National School Lunch Program the option of buying meat with or without the product next school year. Fitzpatrick said Fairfield Public Schools will take the option without “pink slime” starting next fall.

The district’s response could include a change to school lunch menus to feature more chicken, fish and cheeses in Fairfield’s cafeterias. Fitzpatrick said her department has not made a final decision on any changes to the menu.

“We’re evaluating that now,” she said.

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