Safeway, America's second largest supermarket chain, has announced it will no longer sell what the meat industry calls "lean finely textured beef" and the public has come to call "pink slime."
Safeway says in a statement "considerable consumer concern" led to its decision even though the chain believes its beef with the controversial filler in it is safe
"Safeway is committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products," the company said in a statement. "While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product. Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef."
Makers of "lean finely textured beef" and the USDA say that it is not an additive and need not be labeled, and is safe to eat. But critics, including former USDA scientists, contend the ammonia treated "pink slime" - made from low quality scraps once used for dog food and cooking oil - is less nutritious than pure ground beef.
"It's not fresh ground beef. It's a cheap substitute being added in," microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein said.
Seventy percent of all store bought ground beef contained "pink slime," but since ABC News exposed its widespread use many grocery stores have told shoppers their meat counters are free of the mixture.
The USDA announced last week that it will disclose to school districts which of its suppliers use pink slime so administrators can decide whether to purchase it.
Safeway has 1400 stores coast to coast, second only to Kroger. The chain now joins Publix, HEB, Whole Foods and Costco promising their ground beef is additive free.