So… I’ve been thinking and reading more about this pink slime (or lean finely textured beef) nuttiness. It’s fascinating that a manufacturing process that has been in use for years and years has been brought so low in a matter of a mere couple of weeks. I’d rather expected that the outcry would lead to a requirement that beef containing LFTB be labeled, not that stores would stop carrying it altogether. Labeling makes total sense to me, just like we label lunch meats as nitrite/nitrate free — then, we as consumers are free to make the choice about what to purchase for our own families.
Some random observations
Retailer decisions to discontinue pink slime do have ramifications
Jobs will be lost
The Wall Street Journal reports that three plants that produced LFTB have halted production, and 650 people are temporarily out of work. If production doesn’t come back, which it seems unlikely to, where do those jobs go?
Attempts to reach representatives of Beef Products Inc. for comment were unsuccessful, but [Cargill spokesman] Martin said the loss of the lean finely textured beef market will have serious repercussions.
“We’ll likely have to raise an additional 1.5 million head of cattle to make up for the loss,” Martin said.
The Wall Street Journal says:
Industry experts estimate that about 850 million pounds of the additive are used in ground beef annually—meaning processors will have to secure other cuts of meat to replace the filler. That is equivalent to 1.5 million head of cattle a year, introducing new demand into a market where supplies are at historic lows because of a drought in the southern Great Plains.
I’m thinking that means: Higher prices.
All of these may indeed be consequences we are willing to bear — but we need to be aware that it’s not as easy as just saying “get this stuff out of our meat.”
The “no” list doesn’t really mean no
Not all LFTB is processed with ammonium hydroxide. “While South Dakota’s Beef Products Inc. holds a patent for the treatment of lean finely textured beef with ammonium hydroxide, other ground beef suppliers such as Cargill and ConAgra treat the scraps with citric acid to kill pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. ” (From The Daily)
Read retailers’ statements with a finely textured eye
Target, for example, is quoted in multiple recent articles: “”Our ground beef vendors do not use an ammonium hydroxide treatment in their production processes. Any additional questions can be directed to vendors.” Welllll… Target’s ground beef comes from Cargill, and Cargill treats their LFTB with citric acid, not ammonium hydroxide. So, yes, it’s true: Their vendors don’t use ammonium hydroxide — but that doesn’t really mean that their ground beef doesn’t contain LFTB.
I contacted Target for clarification, and they said: “Target places great emphasis on sourcing food from industry leaders in safety and quality. Currently, the ground beef sold in Target does not involve an ammonium hydroxide treatment that has recently become associated with the term “pink slime.” Additionally, Target is working with vendors to remove finely textured beef in the production of all ground beef items offered at Target going forward. Any additional questions can be directed to vendors.”
Well, hey, they wouldn’t have to work with vendors to remove finely textured beef if they didn’t have finely textured beef — so they shouldn’t really be showing up on the “no” lists yet.
How stores reacted was more important than the fact that they were selling these products
Since about everyone turned out to have this in the ground beef they were selling, people were more outraged over stores’ reactions to the questions and uproar than anything. Reading retailers’ Facebook pages and their differing responses to consumers’ repeated questions was fairly enlightening.
Speaking of which, don’t you get paid by Zaycon?
Since all this came out, I’ve received a couple of comments from readers implying I was somehow softer on Zaycon Foods than other ground beef retailers because “bloggers get paid” by them. Here’s the deal — I did receive (and specifically disclose I received) chicken to review from Zaycon. I do receive $1.00 referral credit if you sign up under my link and then buy something from Zaycon — when you sign up for Zaycon, you’re told the same thing yourself if someone signs up under you.
But if you read here regularly, you know I’m up front and honest about my opinions of products, whether I went out and bought them or received them for review. While I really liked the chicken, and said so, I’m also disappointed in the way Zaycon handled this, and said so. And I’ll say it again: Bad move, Zaycon, especially since your whole schtick is that you’re fresher and additive free. And pulling comments off your Facebook page? Sheer bad form.
Speaking of which, are you going to eat all that hamburger you bought?
We still have 36 of the 40 lbs of hamburger I purchased from Zaycon Foods recently. And, yes we are. We’ve already been eating the stuff for what, two decades now? So I think this batch is unlikely to push us over the edge. Would I buy it going forward? I’m not sure I would — but it looks like that’s a moot point, as everywhere I shop is phasing it out (including Zaycon, lol).
OK, we don’t like pink slime — Have you looked at the other things you eat?
Have your kids eaten frozen chicken nuggets at any point? Look up mechanically separated chicken sometime. You know the pictures you’ve been seeing all over on the pink slime posts and some articles, the ones that look like pink soft serve ice cream? Yeah, that’s chicken, not beef. But that’s required to be disclosed on the label, where LFTB hasn’t been.
Now look up hot dogs… genetically modified organisms… bologna… HFCS… take your pick. Pink slime is gross, but so are a lot of other things we eat. Pink slime got the catchy name and got the media attention and triggered the recent groundswell of public opinion and social media storm, but this hardly means that we’re all good on what’s in our food now that most places are phasing it out.
See, I told you it was random
… and rambling!
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