“Dude, it’s beef.” “Chabon, carne de res.” No matter what language you say it in, BPI (Beef Products Inc.) CEO Eldon Roth stands by his product and its new slogan, “Beef is Beef,” and is not backing down. The Dakota Dunes, SD based company has came under recent scrutiny for its beef filler by-products containing LFTB (lean finely textured beef), or “pink slime,” as most pessimistics call it. At a recent rally in support of LFTB in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, Gov. Terry Brandstandt, council woman Rhonda Capron, and Rep. Steve King joined together along with 15,000 other Siouxlanders in support of BPI and LFTB.
Due to the public outcry and concern over LFTB, BPI spokesperson Craig Letch announced they will have to temporarily close three plants and cut 600 to 650 jobs as well. The three plants closing will be the plants in Garden City, KS, Amarillo, TX, and Waterloo, IA. The almost 650 employees will still receive full salaries and full benefits during this interim phase.
LFTB is made from beef fat trimmings and other left over beef parts from the original cuts of beef. It is also treated with ammonia to kill the bacteria, put through a centrifuge, and then sent to meat packers so it can be stretched and reduced to lessen the fat content. According to New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, traces of LFTB can also be found in some turkey products as well.
Fast –food giant McDonalds has already discontinued using any products made with LFTB as of the first of the year, and Hy-Vee has chosen to go with a more customer friendly alternative, and will label all LFTB containing products, but also give consumers the choice of regular all beef products as well.
A bill introduced to the US House of Representatives which goes into effect April 3, 2012, will require any beef containing LFTB to be labeled. Democratic congresswoman from Maine Chellie Pingree also introduced the, “REAL Beef Act,”(requiring easy and accurate labeling) stating, “consumers have made it clear they don’t want this stuff in their food”.
Despite the “REAL Beef Act” and other negative views, BPI will still make their products available and encourages meat suppliers to believe in them, and to trust their company.
Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Council said in a statement, “we have fewer cattle which means we are going to have less beef. And you are going to see the price of beef rising in the supermarket.” If beef prices rise in the supermarkets, we know what that means for all of us? Another expense added to our already shrinking budgets.