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updated 3/26/2012 1:15:28 PM ET 2012-03-26T17:15:28

The company that makes "pink slime" is suspending operations at three of four plants where the low-cost beef filler is made amid a public outcry over concern about the ingredient.

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Beef Products Inc. spokesman Craig Letch on Monday told The Associated Press about the operations suspensions at plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa ahead of a public announcement about the plan. The company's plant at its Dakota Dunes, S.D., headquarters will continue operations.

The ammonia-treated ingredient known by the industry as "lean, finely textured beef" has been used for years but recently became a target of activists seeking to have it banned from supermarkets and school lunches. The U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to allow school districts to stop using it. Some retail chains have pulled products containing it.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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