NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A popular ground beef additive is coming under increasing fire as the New York City school system moves to ban it from school cafeterias.
CBS 2's Lou Young took a closer look Wednesday at "pink slime."
It's used as filler in low-grade ground beef. In fact, it looks like ground beef but comes from slaughterhouse trimmings. You've probably had some if you've ever eaten a bargain burger.
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Critics like Manhattan borough President Scott Stringer call it "pink slime." He wants it out of school cafeterias right away. Districts in Los Angeles and Philadelphia have already banned it.
"We are calling for pink slime to get out of the cafeteria. The slaughterhouse floor is not where the meals for our children should be prepared," Stringer said.
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told Young that burger meat with the odious ingredient will be gone by September, but he insisted there's no desperate rush. It may not be the best beef, but he insisted it's not dangerous.
"Well, it's safe because the USDA says it's safe, so we're following that, but at the same time we understand the concern. So we're going to do the right thing and phase it out over a period of time," Walcott said.
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The material we're talking about is gathered up at the end of the slaughter process: beef bone and connective tissue is rounded up like ground beef and it usually has high concentrations of E. coli bacteria, so the industry literally washes it with ammonia. Ammonia and beef product is mixed together. They call it "lean finely trimmed beef," but the nutritionists Young spoke with have another name for it.
"They're feeding us parts that should not be edible: garbage," nutritionist Sophia Aslanis said.
That's a conclusion burger connoisseurs came to a long time ago. At Big Nick's burger joint on Broadway, management switched to locally ground beef years ago to avoid the presence of ammonia-washed material.
"They use different parts of the animal, of course, grind it daily and deliver. No pink slime," Ahmed Hussein said.
Not at other places and in September not in city schools either.
The USDA insisted the ammonia used to disinfect the beef additive dissipates so rapidly it's barely detectable in the finished product.
Where do you stand on "pink slime?" Sound off in the comments section below!
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