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Entries in beef products inc. (4)

Wednesday
Mar142012

‘Pink Slime’ Will Be a Choice for Schools

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has the learned that on Thursday the U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce that starting this fall, schools will be able to choose whether or not they buy hamburger that contains lean, finely textured beef known as “pink slime.”

The announcement comes one week after ABC News reported on the beef filler commonly known as “pink slime,” which is found in 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets.

“It kind of looks like Play-Doh,” said Kit Foshee, who, until 2001, was a corporate quality assurance manager at Beef Products Inc., the company that makes “pink slime.” “It’s pink and frozen, it’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”

Foshee said that he was fired by BPI after complaining about the process used to make the filler, and the company’s claims about it. Since then, he has spoken out against the product.

J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, defended the practice as a way to safely use what otherwise would be wasted.

“BLBT (Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings) is a sustainable product because it recovers lean meat that would otherwise be wasted,” he said in a statement.

However, the substance, critics said, is more like gelatin than meat, and before BPI found a way to use it by disinfecting the trimmings with ammonia, it was sold only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers.

But Boyle said, “The beef trimmings that are used to make BLBT are absolutely edible,” and Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for AMI, said there was no reason to label beef that contains “pink slime.”

“What are you asking me to put on the label, its beef, it’s on the label, it’s a beef product, it’s says beef so we are declaring…it’s beef,” she said.

The low-grade trimmings come from the parts of the cow most susceptible to contamination, often close to the hide, which is highly exposed to fecal matter. But because the treatment of the trimmings -- simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs -- the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

ABC News traveled across the country to the meat section of grocery stores to see if it’s in the ground beef they sell. At most stores it was impossible to tell for sure whether the beef contained the filler. At one store there was no way to tell from the labels, and the butchers did not know the answer.

There is only one way to know for certain that “pink slime” is not in your beef: If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

Otherwise, you can’t know from the packaging because “pink slime” does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar092012

Where You Can Get ‘Pink-Slime’-Free Beef

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After an ABC News investigation detailing the use of a cheap meat filler, finely textured lean beef, commonly called pink slime, which is in 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets, J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, defended the practice as a way to safely use what otherwise would be wasted.

“BLBT (Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings) is a sustainable product because it recovers lean meat that would otherwise be wasted,” he said in a statement.

However, the substance, critics said, is more like gelatin than meat, and before Beef Products Inc. found a way to use it by disinfecting the trimmings with ammonia it was sold only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers.

But Boyle says “the beef trimmings that are used to make BLBT are absolutely edible” and Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for AMI, said there was no reason to label beef that contains “pink slime.”

“What are you asking me to put on the label, its beef, it’s on the label, it’s a beef product, it’s says beef so we are declaring … it’s beef,” she said.

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But Kit Foshee, who, until 2001, was a corporate quality assurance manager at BPI, the company that makes pink slime, contends the trimmings bear little resemblance to beef.

“It kind of looks like Playdough,” he said. “It’s pink and frozen. It’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”

He and two former USDA inspectors told ABC News the filler commonly referred to as pink slime comes from a low grade of beef trimmings unlike what they call real ground beef. Foshee said that he was fired by BPI after complaining about the process used to make the filler, and the company’s claims about it. Since then, he has spoken out against the product.

The low-grade trimmings come from the parts of the cow most susceptible to contaminaton, often close to the hide, which is highly exposed to fecal matter. But because of BPI’s treatment of the trimmings -- simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs -- the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

The company calls the final product “Finely Textured Lean Beef.” Foshee said it was not as nutritious as ground beef because the protein comes mostly from connective tissue, not muscle meat.

But BPI, its inventor and primary manufacturer, told ABC News in a letter from a lawyer Friday that pink slime was USDA approved beef and was nutritious.

“All beef is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins,” H. Russell Cross, head of the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, said in a statement to ABC News. "Finely textured lean beef helps us meet consumer demand for safe, affordable and nutritious food.”

ABC News was flooded with questions from concerned viewers following its investigation into pink slime.

Many, like Dale Rittenhouse, wanted to know where beef with pink slime was sold.

So ABC News traveled across the country to the meat section of grocery stores to see if it’s in the ground beef they sell. At most stores it was impossible to tell for sure whether the beef contained pink slime. At one store there was no way to know from the labels and the butchers did not know the answer.

ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America and seven responded:

1. Safeway
“We rely on the federal government to help guide us on food safety issues. USDA has been clear in its judgment that Lean Finely Textured Ground Beef is a safe source of nutrition. However, we are reviewing the matter at this time.”

2. Ahold (Stop & Shop/Giant)
“Stores operated by the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef made with Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT), also called Finely Textured Beef (FTB). Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) is beef and is absolutely safe for consumption. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, which are the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA-inspected, wholesome cuts of beef. This process has been an industry standard for almost 20 years. Alternatives to the conventional ground beef supply, in the form of Certified Angus Beef and Nature’s Promise ground beef products, are available to customers in stores across all of the divisions of Ahold USA. These products do not include the use of BLBT. Customers are being encouraged to ask any meat associate should they have any questions or would like to be directed to meat that does not include Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. Our labeling is in compliance with USDA regulations. BLBT is USDA tested and approved ground beef and therefore does not require labeling.”

3. Costco
Does not use pink slime.
“Anything that we sell at Costco we want to explain it’s origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

4. Publix
“We have never allowed the use of LFTB (pink slime) in our meat. It’s 100 percent ground beef with no LFTB.”

5. H-E-B
“All our ground beef sold at H-E-B is 100% pure with no additives.”

6. Whole Foods
Does not use pink slime.

7. Kroger
“We do not use finely textured beef in our fresh ground beef. … We are routinely presented the finely textured beef as an option, but have always refused.”

An ABC News viewer, Miles Herbert, wanted to know, “Is there any evidence that organic meat contains this pink slim?”

It turns out there isn’t. If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

Otherwise, you can’t know from the packaging because pink slime does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Seventy Percent of Ground Beef at Supermarkets Contains ‘Pink Slime’

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Gerald Zirnstein grinds his own hamburger these days. Why? Because this former United States Department of Agriculture scientist and, now, whistleblower, knows that 70 percent of the ground beef we buy at the supermarket contains something he calls “pink slime.”

“Pink slime” is beef trimmings. Once only used in dog food and cooking oil, the trimmings are now sprayed with ammonia so they are safe to eat and added to most ground beef as a cheaper filler.

It was Zirnstein who, in a USDA memo, first coined the term “pink slime” and is now coming forward to say he won’t buy it.

“It’s economic fraud,” he told ABC News. “It’s not fresh ground beef. …It’s a cheap substitute being added in.”

Zirnstein and his fellow USDA scientist, Carl Custer, both warned against using what the industry calls “lean finely textured beef,” widely known now as “pink slime,” but their government bosses overruled them.

According to Custer, the product is not really beef, but “a salvage product …fat that had been heated at a low temperature and the excess fat spun out.”

The “pink slime” is made by gathering waste trimmings, simmering them at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spinning the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. The process is completed by packaging the meat into bricks. Then, it is frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef.

The “pink slime” does not have to appear on the label because, over objections of its own scientists, USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled it meat.

“The under secretary said, ‘it’s pink, therefore it’s meat,’” Custer told ABC News.

ABC News has learned the woman who made the decision to OK the mix is a former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. It was a call that led to hundreds of millions of dollars for Beef Products Inc., the makers of pink slime.

When Smith stepped down from the USDA in 1993, BPI’s principal major supplier appointed her to its board of directors, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years.

Smith did not return ABC News’ calls for comment and BPI said it had nothing to do with her appointment. The USDA said while her appointment was legal at the time, under current ethics rules Smith could not have immediately joined the board.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul162011

Food Companies Act to Protect Customers from E-coli Bacteria

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(DAKOTA DUNES, S.D.) -- Tired of waiting for federal government regulators to act, companies are drumming up new regulation strategies to keep dangerous strains of E. coli from affecting the food supply.

Two major American companies, Costco Wholesale and Beef Products Inc. are taking initiatives to protect customers after a deadly wave of E. coli sickness swept through Europe this spring and raised alarm on both sides of the Atlantic.

In June, Costco, one of the nation’s largest food retailers, began requiring its suppliers of bagged produce to test for a broad range of toxic E. coli bacteria.

Costco also plans to test all of the ground beef sold at its warehouse stores.

This week, Beef Products, a large manufacturer of lean beef, announced that it had started testing for the six additional strains of E. coli at one of its five grinding plants.

The South Dakota-based company, said it would start testing in its four other plants as soon as it could get enough test kits from manufacturers, which just began producing them.

Until recently, the produce and beef industries focused E. coli prevention efforts on a single strain of the bacteria, known as O157:H7, which was responsible for scores of outbreaks and recalls.

Public health experts identified six rarer forms, often referred to as the “Big Six,” which have been found to be the cause of illness related to food, including an outbreak in the U.S. last year traced to tainted romaine lettuce.

Each type of E. coli has different characteristics, making it a challenge for developing tests to rapidly detect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio