The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given the OK for some companies to begin listing “pink slime”/”lean finely textured beef”/”ammonia-treated beef” on packaging labels. A spokesperson for the USDA, Dirk Fillpot, wouldn’t name the companies that would be listing the filler. But Fillpot told MSNBC that some companies had voluntarily approached the Department asking to list LFTB on their labels. He wouldn’t say if the USDA was discussing whether to make it a requirement.
Cargill admitted that it was one of the companies that made the request, but says no final decision has been made. Surely, they’re weighing the pros and cons. Pro: the company will score points for taking it upon themselves to be honest with customers. Con: the company sells pink slime for dinner.
MSNBC says 700 to 800 million pounds of LFTB are used in 10 billion pounds of beef each year. That is very problematic.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad labeled the backlash against LFTB a “smear campaign” on BloombergTV’s InBusiness with Margaret Brennan today, adding, “We think that the public is entitled to know the truth.” Of course, when he talks about the truth, he reiterates that LFTB is safe.
“We need to encourage people to eat this product. It’s good for them,” he adds. When asked about any objections he has to having the item listed on packaging, he started talking about the tour he took with Govs. Rick Perry and Sam Brownback.
An industry rep also contacted PRNewser to try and quell worries over use of the filler in meat products, emphasizing the food safety benefits.
Already, AFA Foods, a beef processor, has filed for bankruptcy protection because of the controversy. “In filing for bankruptcy, it cited ‘recent changes in the market’ for its products and media coverage related to the filler, and said it was seeking a sale of some or all of its assets,” Reuters reports. In December, the company reported $958 million in annual revenue for 2011.
More than 200 people in Iowa have lost their jobs over the controversy.
The director of the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University Gary Acuff says “pink slime” may not be able to recover from this poor reputation.
“The public view of this product is pretty damaged at this point,” he says.