Giant Food, the region's largest grocery chain, became the latest area supermarket Thursday to declare it would stop selling meat with the additive known as pink slime.
The Landover-based company is among a growing number of supermarkets pulling the product from its shelves because of concern from shoppers, even though food regulators say pink slime, also known as "finely textured beef," passes food safety standards.
"While the USDA … has indicated this product is safe for consumption and complies with all applicable standards for lean beef, many of our customers voiced concern regarding finely textured beef," Giant said in a statement.
Concern about pink slime has increased as healthy food advocates in recent weeks have questioned its contents and how it is made. The furor was fueled by social media and an online petition.
The product comes from fatty scraps leftover after steaks and roasts are cut from a cow. The meat bits are heated to soften them and then spun to remove the fat and separate the meat. Ammonia is used to kill bacteria. The filler is sometimes mixed into fattier meat to create a leaner product.
The byproduct has been used for years, but concerns have escalated so much the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will give schools that are part of its national school lunch program the choice of whether to include beef with pink slime in its lunches.
Some area school districts said they have fielded calls from concerned parents.
The Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County school systems checked with their wholesalers in past weeks after pink slime began making headlines. Neither district serves meat with the additive, spokespeople said.
"Our vendors have verified that they do not use that filler in our beef products," Edie House-Foster with the Baltimore City school system said in a statement.
The attention has prompted many grocery stores to stop selling meat with the additive or to release statements reaffirming it never has.
Giant's announcement came a day after Safeway said it would no longer sell meats with pink slime. Other area grocers who have said they will stop offering it, or never have, are Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, Food Lion and Whole Foods.
"Currently, the ground beef sold in Target does not involve an ammonium hydroxide treatment that has recently become associated with the term ‘pink slime,'" a company spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday. "Additionally, Target is working with vendors to remove finely textured beef in the production of all ground beef items offered at Target going forward."
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