Pink Slime
In this undated image released by Beef Products Inc., boneless lean beef trimmings, better known as pink slime, is shown before packaging. Beef Products Inc. suspended operations at three of its four plants on Monday. Beef Products Inc.

Schools across the US can decide on whether to serve pink slime beef for lunch or not, according to an announcement by the United States Agricultural Department (USDA) on Thursday.

USDA will provide alternatives to schools which buy products through its food programme from the next school term.

The decision followed a public uproar and condemnation through the social media over the use of the product in school meals, though it is considered safe for consumption.

Lean Finely Textured Beef or pink slime as it is generally known is made from meat scrapings which is heated to reduce the fat content and is treated with ammonia hydroxide to kill any bacteria.

"USDA only purchases products for the school lunch programme that are safe, nutritious and affordable - including all products containing Lean Finely Textured Beef," the USDA said in a statement.

"USDA will provide schools with a choice to order the product either with or without Lean Finely Textured Beef," the statement further read.

However, the USDA maintained that the product is safe to consume and urged consumers to go by scientific information before deciding on the quality and safety of the product.