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Mid-South Schools Serving Up Pink Slime?

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(Memphis) "I think it's a huge issue of us not knowing what's in our food," says parent and vegetarian Jay Adkins.

"Just the name pink slime sounds kind of scary," says parent Michelle Dukes.

Concern, confusion and in some cases, outrage describe consumer reaction to the use of lean, finely textured beef.

LFTB is a product that's separated from fatty trim, treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria, then added to ground beef.

Industry experts say it's safe.

The USDA agrees and supplies it to schools, but systems will now be able to opt out.

Dozens of supermarkets are pulling beef with pink slime off the shelf as a movement to ban it gains even more momentum.

"Obviously, there needs to be an investigation into what is in our food," adds Adkins. WREG On Your Side Investigators did just that, and asked area schools if they were serving up pink slime. In some cases, the answer is yes.

Desoto County gets its beef from Cargill through a state cooperative.

Cargill is the only company besides Beef Products, Inc. that produces Lean Finely Textured Beef.

Cargill uses citric acid instead of ammonia to treat the beef. A spokesperson says it has all been misunderstood.

"People have really, they've latched on to the phrase 'pink slime,' they've latched on to ammonia," says Cargill Director of Communications Mike Martin.

Discerning what's on the plate in Memphis and Shelby County schools proved a bit more difficult.

Memphis' child nutrition director called pink slime a "horrible product," in an Associated Press interview and a spokesperson told us the district didn't use it.

But, the city's vendor, Don Lee Farms is a re-processor, meaning its beef comes from somewhere else.

The company says it doesn't add LFTB, but refused to comment on what was already in its beef.

Shelby County Schools says Tyson Foods has assured the district the beef it serves doesn't contain pink slime.

However, Tyson confirmed it makes products with and without LFTB, so only a check of the product code would determine what actually made it onto the plate.

The system also says its "refining food bidding practices to further ensure no products containing this ingredient are purchased in the future."

Parents say this points to a bigger issue. "You know, I'd love for the schools to feed our kids more fruit and vegetables, and less processed food all the way around," adds Dukes.

Experts say one way to ensure there's no pink slime in your beef is to go organic, because it can't contain additives.

As for the schools that get beef from the National School Lunch Program, and choose to "opt out" of the supply with LFTB, the alternative will be bulk ground beef with more fat.