The nation’s school districts are turning up their noses at “pink slime,” the beef product that caused a public uproar earlier this year.

USDA says the vast majority of states participating in its National School Lunch Program have opted to order ground beef that doesn’t contain the product known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB).

Only three states — Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota — chose to order beef that may contain LFTB.

The product has been used for decades and federal regulators say it’s safe to eat. It nevertheless became the center of national attention after the nickname “pink slime” was quoted in a New York Times article on the safety of meat processing methods. The filler is made of fatty bits of beef that are heated then treated with a puff of ammonia to kill bacteria.

In response to the public outcry over its use, the USDA said in March that it would, for the first time, offer schools the choice to purchase beef without LFTB for the coming 2012-2013 school year. The agency has continued to affirm that LFTB is a safe, affordable and nutritious product that reduces overall fat content.

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