The Houston Independent School District has accused a California-based food supplier of breaching its contract with the district by using lean finely textured beef (LFTB) in hamburger patties sold to the district.
HISD officials conducting an inventory of all food supplies in the wake of parents’ concerns about the use of LFTB discovered that Don Lee Farms included the product in quarter-pound beef patties sold to HISD this year. The district has committed to not serving LFTB and has confirmed that no suppliers of ground beef served in HISD schools use LFTB.
HISD’s bid specifications prohibit any variety meats, filler, or extenders in the foods served in the district’s cafeterias. LFTB is treated with Ammonium hydroxide and is not sold as a stand- alone product. It is a cheaper and inferior grade of beef than the district intended to serve to its children.
“LFTB is not an acceptable variety meat, filler, or extender for a product to be served to school children,” HISD’s legal office wrote in a demand letter mailed to Don Lee Farms on April 10. “This constitutes a breach of the agreement and demand is made for immediate pickup of the product and refund of the purchase price.”
As of today, the company has not agreed to HISD’s demand for a refund, and the district is considering further legal action.
HISD this school year has purchased 14,080 cases of quarter-pound charbroiled beef patties from Don Lee Farms at a cost of $523,776. The remaining unused inventory of beef patties supplied by Don Lee Farms totals 1,045 cases worth $38,874.
LFTB is made from meat trimmings that are treated to eliminate bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not require food suppliers to list LFTB as an ingredient.