Health Highlights: June 5, 2012

'Pink Slime' Rejected by Most School Districts Settlement Close in Listeria Outbreak Lawsuits: Lawyers

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

'Pink Slime' Rejected by Most School Districts

A beef product widely referred to as "pink slime" is off the menu in most school districts across the United States.

The vast majority of states that participate in the National School Lunch Program have decided to order ground beef that doesn't contain the filler product known as lean finely textured beef, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The USDA said only three states -- Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota -- ordered beef that may contain the filler, the Associated Press reported.

After a public outcry early this year, the USDA said in March that it would change its policy and offer schools the choice to purchase beef without the filler for the 2012-13 school year.

Lean finely textured beef is made of fatty beef chunks that are heated and then treated with ammonia to kill bacteria. The USDA says it's a safe, affordable and nutritious product, the AP reported.


Settlement Close in Listeria Outbreak Lawsuits: Lawyers

A settlement may be pending in lawsuits against a Colorado farm identified as the source of last fall's listeria outbreak that involved cantaloupes and caused at least 30 deaths and sickened 146 people in 28 states, lawyers said Monday.

The lawsuits were filed against Jensen Farms by people who became ill or had a family member die in the United States' deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years, the Associated Press reported.

A deal could be finalized by fall, according to attorneys for both sides. The settlement could also include a company that did a safety audit of the farm and a company that makes and imports food-processing equipment, said Bill Marler, a lawyer for 39 of the plaintiffs.

The proposed settlement under discussion would establish a victims' fund of $4 million, the AP reported.

The outbreak was likely caused by dirty water on the floor and old, difficult-to-clean equipment, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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