NEW YORK — The maker of the beef filler dubbed “pink slime” by critics is reopening a plant that it shut in the face of bad publicity two years ago.
Beef Products Inc. makes a product it calls “lean finely textured beef” using meat trimmings from other companies like Tyson. It shut down three of its four plants following reports about the product on ABC news in the spring of 2012.
A defamation suit brought by Beef Products against ABC is still working its way through the courts. The company said its sales fell by 80% in the weeks after the network’s reports about the product. Some major buyers, such as McDonald’s and the grocery chain Safeway told ABC they would stop buying the filler product to mix with its ground beef.
But sales for Beef Products Inc. have bounced back recently, according to spokesman Jeremy Jacobsen. “We’ve seen an uptick in the business,” he said.
Beef prices have hit record highs this year in the face of growing demand for beef from overseas markets and drought conditions in large parts of the country. The higher prices have increased demand for less-expensive fillers.
Beef Products said it plans to reopen a plant in western Kansas next week, hiring between 40 to 45 workers. It had employed 230 workers before it closed. Its only plant now operating is in Dakota City, Nebraska.
Beef Products insists that its product is safe — made entirely of beef without additives or fillers. The company also says its product reduces the fat content of ground beef and other products to which it is added.
But critics quoted in the ABC report call it a salvage product made of trimmings that were formerly used only in dog food and cooking oil.