Vance County Schools – Beef In Schools Contain No Ammonium Hydroxide

With recent reports of consumer concerns over ammonium hydroxide used to process lean finely textured beef, referred to as “pink slime,” Vance County Schools wants parents, students and the local community to know that the school system does not purchase beef products processed with this chemical.

Vance County Schools has been ordering fully cooked commercial beef products, mostly in beef patties, since at least the year 2000. The beef product is not ammonia treated ground beef filler that has been dubbed as pink slime.

AdvancePierre Foods, the supplier of the beef products to Vance County Schools, has announced that it does not purchase ammonia treated lean finely textured beef from any vendor.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stresses that ammonium hydroxide is not used as an ingredient in foods. It is a food safety intervention. The process of using ammonium hydroxide to manufacture lean finely textured beef is approved by the USDA and has been proven to be wholesome and safe. The USDA also reports that this intervention is used in many other foods throughout the commercial food system and ammonium hydroxide also is present in foods naturally.

Food grade ammonium hydroxide, which has been declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1974, is used to produce a number of products such as puddings and baked goods and can be used in the processing of boneless lean beef trimmings to control any harmful bacteria that may be present in the beef. A puff of ammonium hydroxide gas slightly raises the pH of a product and can destroy bacteria that could make someone ill if a raw product is not cooked thoroughly, according to the American Meat Institute. The USDA, after consultation with FDA, has determined that this use of ammonium hydroxide is safe and it has been in use for this purpose since 2001.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has announced that for the 2012-2013 school year, all beef items made available to schools in the state will not contain any lean finely textured beef.

Vance County Schools plans to continue purchasing beef products from AdvancePierre Foods in the future. These products do not contain ammonia treated lean finely textured beef.