USDA affirms safety of lean finely textured beef

The ‘pink slime’ saga continues apace in the US… The US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) has affirmed the safety of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) product for all consumers and urges customers to consult science-based information on the safety and quality of this product. But it would appear perception will win over science and fact in this instance.

LFTB is a meat product derived from a process which separates fatty pieces from beef trimmings to reduce the overall fat content. Critics have sensationalised this 95% lean beef product by calling it “pink slime” and referring to it as a filler or additive.

In response to requests from school districts across the United States, the USDA has announced that it will offer more choices to schools in the National School Lunch Program when it comes to purchases of ground beef products. Due to customer demand, USDA will be adjusting procurement specifications for the next school year so schools can have additional options in procuring ground beef products. USDA will provide schools with a choice to order product either with or without lean finely textured beef. Read more

Additional commentary

Safeway to stop buying “pink slime” beef filler
Safeway, the No 2 US supermarket operator, will stop buying the ammonia-treated beef filler critics call “pink slime” because of widespread customer concern, the company said on Wednesday. The halt is a fresh blow to use of the ground beef filler, also known as lean finely textured beef, which has drawn criticism from food activists. Although the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and industry experts said the filler is safe, “recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product,” Safeway said in a statement. “Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef.” Read more from Chicago Tribune

Americans are repulsed by pink slime and would avoid it in droves if it were labelled. It’s pretty clear that in the US, the economic well-being of the food industry trumps the consumer’s right to know and the wholesomeness of our food.
From a commentary by Nancy Huehnergarth in the Huffington Post. Read more

Are the whining class crying ‘wolf’ again? The latest media storm engulfing the industry is the presence of so-called ‘pink slime’ in meat consumed by humans, including meat served in the nations schools. Across the country, in blogs and traditional venues, the calls are coming in for the government to ban ground beef containing Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) even though many scientists and industry lobbyists say it is perfectly safe for human consumption.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “BLBT is not just in beef at school: It’s in much of the ground beef sold in this country (as much as 70 percent, according to ABC News). But many consumers have no idea they’re eating ‘pink slime’ because the classification of the substance as ‘beef’ means it need not be disclosed on labelling.”

The process of using ammonium hydroxide in BLBT to inhibit pathogens such as E coli and salmonella sounds like a great idea, but the steamroller is already out of the barn and the industry will soon be in full retreat or risk being flattened by a rising tide of angry consumerism. Consumer perception trumps actual facts every time!

Commentary by Bob Messenger, Editor, The Morning Cup

Is ‘pink slime’ being unfairly demonised?

“Pink slime” beef is off the menu for US schools but prominent industry figures say there’s nothing to worry about… New Scientist