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Entries in Beef Products Inc. (2)

Tuesday
Apr032012

BPI Endorses USDA Voluntary Labeling of LFTB or ‘Pink Slime’

Rob Melnychuk/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- BPI, maker of Lean Finely Textured Beef or “pink slime,” as critics call it, is bowing to consumer pressure and endorsing a huge move by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- the voluntary labeling of LFTB.

The government is telling producers that USDA inspectors will certify labels such as “Contains Lean Finely Textured Beef,”  “Contains Finely Textured Beef,” or “Contains Lean Beef Derived from Beef Trimmings,” and stamp them with USDA approval.

Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch says the government is sending a message to consumers and the meat industry.

“USDA is trying to kind of split the baby,” Lover says. “They don’t require it and offend the industry, but they realize there’s a public relations problem and people are outraged about this.”

BPI, the maker of LFTB, released a statement Tuesday saying it has signed on to the USDA labeling move.

“While ground beef is a single ingredient product (beef) and lean finely textured beef therefore is not required to be listed separately on any label, we believe USDA’s decision to allow companies to voluntarily include information on their label regarding LFTB content will be an important first step in restoring consumer confidence in their ground beef,” the statement said. “Based upon the numerous taste panel studies conducted using BPI’s lean beef and strong consumer preference for ground beef that contains our LFTB, we feel this development will allow more customers to provide options to consumers and pave the way for BPI’s lean beef to reestablish its place in the market.”

The American Meat Institute says the reversal is understandable.

“If you think about everything the company has been subjected to and what I would characterize as, with all due respect, a campaign of misinformation, you can’t blame a company for trying to save itself and make sure that employees don’t lose their jobs,” AMI spokesman Mark Dopp said.

Cargill, one of the nation’s largest ground beef producers Tuesday asked the USDA for permission to give it the option to label its ground beef as containing a similar filler.  At the same time, companies that don't use LFTB have asked permission to label, too, with terms like “excludes finely textured beef” and “made without finely textured beef.”

“This is an excellent outcome in giving consumers a choice,” Bettina Siegel, a blogger at the Lunch Tray website and a mother of two who started a petition calling for full disclosure in ground beef said today. “A good first step, but USDA should not leave labeling voluntary.”

Since the first of the year, McDonalds and other fast food stores have dropped LFTB, the USDA has identified which products contain the filler for school districts, grocery stores have pulled it from shelves, and now -- for the first time -- what is inside the beef will be labeled on the outside.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar292012

'Dude, It's Beef!': Governors Tour Plant, Reject 'Pink Slime' Label

Hemera/Thinkstock(DAKOTA DUNES, S.D.) -- Governors from three meat-producing states Thursday defended Beef Products Inc., the company that makes lean finely textured beef, which now-former USDA scientists nicknamed "pink slime," after a walk through the company's plant accompanied by ABC News.

"Let's call this product what it is and let 'pink slime' become a term of the past," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said after the tour, after which officials showed off T-shirts with the slogan, "Dude, it's beef!"

Stung by consumer reaction to the process used by BPI, grocery stores pulled beef containing the filler off the shelves and BPI closed three of its four plants for lack of demand. The governors said that the treatment the product received in the media was unfair because it is not only safe, but also nutritious and allows grocers to sell leaner ground beef at a lower cost.

"It's beef, but it's leaner beef, which is better for you," Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said. "We take this off the market then we end up with a fatter product that's going to cost more and is going to increase the obesity problem in this country."

ABC News joined Branstad, Perry and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on a tour of the facilities where beef scraps, mostly fat and connective tissue, are processed. The scraps are put through centrifuges to separate the fat and then through pipes, where they are spritzed with ammonia gas before emerging as a pink mix that is then frozen and sent all over the country.

Until recently, the lean finely textured beef, known to critics as "pink slime," was added to America's fast food, school lunches and 70 percent of all ground beef sold at grocery stores.

ABC News was not allowed to ask questions during the tour, but at a news conference later, the governors came under attack.

Branstad, who received $150,000 in campaign contributions in 2010 from the founders of BPI, organized the governors' tour and press conference, but told ABC News that the contribution played no role in his decision to hold the event.

"I always fight for my constituents and I will always fight for what is right," he said.

Nancy Donley, president of Safe Tables Our Priority, an organization dedicated to preventing foodborne illness, lost her 6-year-old son in 1993 from E. coli. Donley warned that doing away with lean finely textured beef will make the meat supply more dangerous.

The Safe Tables website until recently listed BPI as its largest funder, providing more than half the organization's budget. However, the disclosure of BPI's funding recently was removed from the website, with Safe Tables saying the donor now wishes to be anonymous. The relationship was not mentioned at Thursday's news conference.

"No price can be put on my son's head," she said Thursday. "I can't be bought and neither can my organization. We represent the victims."

Also on stage for the news conference was Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, under secretary for food safety at the USDA. Hagen assured the public that the product is safe to eat, but still refused to answer any questions from ABC News after the news conference. ABC News has been asking the USDA for an on-camera interview with ANY official willing to speak on the issue, including Hagen. But the officials declined to speak, claiming a tight schedule.

BPI founder Regina Roth concluded the press conference by inviting the governors to chomp down on BPI-provided burgers complete with the lean finely textured beef they were defending and which the "pink slime" critics want clearly identified on packaging.

"We're going to have some burgers with LFTB in them, so come on in and let's go eat," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio