BRANSTAD’S BEEF: Branstad Backs Beef

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Governor Brandstad says he is not sure where this started, but says if it doesn't end soon it could really hurt Iowa and it's agriculture industry.

The term "pink slime" was given to a beef product by a federal microbiologist, and thanks mainly in part to social media it has taken off and spread like wild fire.

It has already led some companies to take the product off their shelves. And some schools have requested the meat no longer be served in their school lunches.

Now the governor and secretary of agriculture say they are trying to contain the damage, bfore it gets any worse.

Governor Branstad says, “I can tell you this is important to the beef industry in this state and they are concerned about this so we need to work as quickly as we can and marshal correct accurate information.”

Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “I can guarantee you that if we felt this was unsafe we wouldn`t allow it to be marketed and we wouldn`t make it part of our school lunch program.”

Secretary Vilsack says the USDA intentionally put this meat in school lunch programs.

He says it’s less expensive and healthier than other ground beef.

Governor Brandstad says BPI has been processing this meat for 30 years now, even he and his family eats it.

He compares people calling the lean textured ground beef "pink slime" to a few years ago when H1N1 was called swine flu, and created a panic.

Branstad says, "We don’t want people to quit eating beef. It’s too important to our economy. If you think about the reason Iowa’s economy is stronger than a lot of states is because of agriculture and this will definitely hurt all agriculture, because corn and soybeans also go into what cattle eat. So it has a ripple effect."

Governor Brandstad says it could potentially lead to a beef shortage if the backlash isn't contained at this point.

In order to prevent that, the governor is compiling information from experts all over the country.

Brandstad says he hopes providing proof that the product is safe will erase the growing fear and rejection of it.

He says, "During a time where we are all working hard to create new jobs, watching these facilities shut down is even harder to take since we know the concern over the safety of this product is unfounded."

Those jobs are being lost partly because the product is being pulled off shelves.

Last week Hy-Vee said it would stop buying products with lean textured beef.  But today they said they will continue to sell it.

They say they received hundreds of complaints from customers wanting to support their local industry.

The products will have a new label letting people know what it is.

While Governor Branstad says he's standing up for Iowa workers, he's also standing up for one of his campaign's biggest supporters.  BPI was founded by Eldon Roth of South Dakota.

In 2010, Roth donated $152,000 to the "Governor Branstad Committee", Branstad's official election committee.