Dozens of US Congressmen have come out in force to demand further efforts to educate consumers on the quality of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) – now commonly known as ‘pink slime’.
In a letter addressed to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary Tom Vilsack, 30 members of Congress urged further schooling on the quality and safety of the product to counteract the “tremendous amount of simply incorrect information” already published.
Earlier this year, two former USDA scientists told ABC News that LFTB was approved for use in ground beef products for political reasons despite there being safety concerns.
Resulting media coverage and consumer pressure led to announcements from several US retailers that they would end their purchase of products containing ‘pink slime’.
Beef Products Inc. (BPI), a major producer of LFTB, was forced to suspend production at three of its four facilities as a result of the uproar.
“Great deal of misinformation”
“Over the past several weeks, a great deal of misinformation has been disseminated to the public regarding the high quality lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) that is produced by companies like Beef Products Incorporated (BPI) and used by meat processors across the marketplace,” said the letter.
“Given the tremendous amount of simply incorrect information that has been released to the public about LFTB, it is not surprise that some consumers have begun to question the quality of this product. However, we understand the truth: LFTB is 100% beef, safe, and cost-effective.”
“We have been watching with great concern as this campaign of misinformation has unfolded and have been particularly concerned about the loss of jobs that’s resulted from it.”
A total of 650 jobs were affected as a result of suspended operations at BPI’s plants in Kansas, Texas and Iowa.
US-based ground beef producer, AFA Foods, also cited the uproar when filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.
“No company should be forced to close its doors due to a smear campaign by a few overzealous individuals in the media. LFTB is a safe product and should be promoted as such.”
In the letter, the petitioners urged the USDA, and more specifically the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), to correct the public record.
“We agree with you that consumers should always have the ability to exercise choice in the marketplace. This is a foundational principle of the American way of life.”
“However, in the current environment of rampant and intentional mischaracterisation and misinformation, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that consumers are able to make choices that are based on the facts, rather than emotion and hysteria,” the letter added.