Finely textured beef
Beef Products, Inc. will close three of its four processing plants and lay off 650 people where a ground beef additive is made from beef trimmings.
Plants in Amarillo, Texas, Garden City, Kan. and Waterloo Iowa will close May 25. A plant in South Sioux City, Neb., will operate at reduced capacity.
The product was called as "pink slime" by a former inspector on ABC news in March. Concerns about the content spread quickly on blogs and websites.
Safeway, SUPERVALU, Food Lion, Kroger and Stop & Shop stopped buying it and schools were given the option to quit serving it to students.
The filler has been used for years and meets federal food safety standards. BPI calls it finely textured beef. During processing, bits of beef are heated and treated with a small amount of ammonia to kill bacteria.
"Trim is the meat and fat that is trimmed away when beef is cut into steaks and roasts. This lean beef is used in hamburger, sausage, ground beef and as a valuable ingredient in many other foods." BPI said. "We use a puff of ammonia to eliminate bacteria safely and effectively."
In a series of 10 stories in approximately two weeks, ABC and its reporter Jim Avila were critical of BPI and its products, Fox News reported on March 23, while other networks gave only passing notice to the issue.
The result was widespread and criticism devastated the company.
Rep. Adrian Smith said the news of the permanent lay offs is extremely unsettling, given that it is due to a media scare.
"There are real life consequences when we stray from using sound science to determine product safety,” Smith said.
Smith is co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus in the House of Representatives.
“I’ve joined many others saying lean, finely textured beef is a nutritious, safe, and affordable product which is already regulated by the USDA and FDA,” Smith said.
“The long term safety and security of our nation’s food supply depends on our unwavering commitment to science-based standards. Anything less is a disservice to producers, the workers earning a living, and consumers.”
On April 18, Smith and 29 bipartisan members of Congress urged U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to correct the public record and educate consumers about LFTB.
The USDA has not responded.