Entries in Governors (2)


'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 


Obama Calls Governors of Storm-Ravaged States

Pete Souza/Official White House Photo(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama called the governors of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky on Saturday regarding the deadly tornados that have claimed at least 35 lives across a wide swath of the United States since Friday.

A White House release says Obama was briefed by FEMA director Craig Fugate before the call, and pledged the emergency response agency is poised to provide assistance to state recovery efforts if necessary. The president offered condolences to the victims of the storms and acknowledged it may be days before the full extent of damage is known.

Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky bore the overwhelming majority of casualties from the last day’s storms, which were only the latest waves of extreme weather to hit the Midwest and South in the last week. All three have declared a state of emergency.

FEMA says the federal government has already deployed surveyors to Illinois and Missouri for damage assessment at the request of those states. The officials are there to help governors determine if additional help is required from Washington. The administration also says it is in the process of stocking a Kentucky staging area with 98,000 meals and other commodities to be released if requested by governors.

“Our priority, as always, is to make sure that we are here to support local efforts to keep residents and communities safe,” Fugate said in a written statement. “FEMA has teams on the ground in hard hit areas and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources if needed by the state.”

People who wish to donate to relief efforts or volunteer can find more information here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio