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‘Pink Slime’ is Back and is Heading for Your Burger

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.

8 comments

  • Dave

    A sadly underinformed author (again). “lean finely textured beef” is not a filler, it’s real beef, and very lean beef at that. LFTB has been around and consumed safely for decades, and BPI is not the only provider, just the largest. LFTB is mechanically extracted from parts of the animal that are just too expensive to try and extract by hand. The damage to industry and company appear to have been caused by continued harping (ratings, anyone?) by ABC, who like this author continues to thump the “pink slime” theme that originated with a now-discredited, former employee of the gov’t. BPI probably could have done a better job managing their story when this storm first hit but that’s old news. The truth is this whole subject was blown way out of proportion by a few people with the media power to do so, and they did major damage. So now we’ll see what the courts have to say.

    • ILikeFacts

      Your comments are right on the mark, Dave. I think the fact that BPI issued the information that they’ll be opening one of their facilities to meet consumer demand is a clear indication that LFTB is being recognized and accepted by consumers and those who process food products with ground beef. It also begins to address that transparency issue…more than I can say for a news organization that hides behind a byline called “staff writer.”

    • harrisbock

      As stated, it is made entirely from beef scraps that would otherwise be disposed of. It is using as much of the animal as possible. If I put a steak in the blender, and liquify/puree it, is it still a steak or is it now pink slime?

    • iamjoespinkyfinger

      you mean bio-mechanically processed meat paste, LFTB is really an accurate description any more than pink slime.

      It’s made of parts that were once not sold for human consumption, parts that no one would buy. So this is the scheme they came up with to be able to sell it.

      And that’s fine, as long as consumers are told.

  • iamjoespinkyfinger

    They lost the lawsuit before they even filed it.

    But pink slime isn’t really accurate, bio-mechanically processed meat paste would be more accurate.

    And the bottom line is consumers have a right to the information needed to make informed choices about what they buy and eat. Companies that feel otherwise obviously have things to hide. Only evil avoids the light.

  • Kevin

    How about you google Material Safety Data Sheet for Ammonium hydroxide and then tell me if you think this is something you should eat. Oh and if you don’t get the relationship, this chemical is what is in the beef to kill bacteria.

    • harrisbock

      Would you rather eat beef with bacteria? Look at the MSDS for sodium fluoride and what is is made from. It is a corrosive toxin in concentrate but many locals add it into the water supply and is in toothpastes some baby/infant foods/drinks . There is no reason for that. Chlorine was a chemical weapon in WWI but is a very good disinfectant and sterilizer in diluted form, thus it is added to the water supply to kill bacteria. The preparation of Lutefisk involves lye, and if done wrong can hurt you. If done right, it still tastes like crap.

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