Local retailers shun "pink slime' beef productLocally, retailers say their beef either does not contain so-called pink slime, or they are working to get rid of it.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Locally, retailers say their beef either does not contain so-called pink slime, or they are working to get rid of it.
“We don’t have any pink slime,” said Justin Luther, manager of the County Fair Food Store in Mitchell. “We grind our meat fresh daily — several times a day, actually, and don’t put any preservatives into our meats.”
A local official at the Coborn’s grocery store referred inquiries to a corporate spokeswoman who could not be reached Monday.
Rick Lenger, manager of Mitchell Locker, wasn’t familiar with the pink slime controversy but said his customers are particular about the source of their meat, and there is no pink slime in his products.
“They like locally raised, homegrown beef with no additives, preservatives or fillers,” he said.
Shorty Hofer, who operates Shorty’s Locker, said consumers already contend with too many preservatives, and there is no pink slime at his locker.
“You’ve got to start with quality beef. We don’t add anything to our meats,” he said. “It’s not worth it.”
Retail giant Walmart, responding to public concerns about food quality, issued a news release earlier this month stating, “Walmart and Sam’s Club will begin offering fresh ground beef that does not contain LFTB. We are working aggressively with our suppliers to have new offerings in our stores and clubs as quickly as possible. While the USDA and experts agree that beef containing LFTB is safe and nutritious, we are committed to listening to our customers and providing the quality products they want at prices they can afford.”
South Dakota Beef Producer’s Council President Ed Blair has issued an official statement supporting the production and continued sale of LFTB.
“Lean finely textured beef is an excellent source of essential nutrients including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins,” Blair said. It is not, he added, a “filler” as some have implied. It is beef, he said, and provides a way to capture the nutritional benefits of beef and utilize it in a safe, quality and economical product.
“Raising safe beef is a top priority for all cattlemen,” he said. “We have invested more than $30 million in beef safety research since 1993. The beef community as a whole invests $550 million annually to research and implement food safety measures that include science, testing, implementation and validation. We don’t take it lightly.”
The product has been produced in South Dakota since the 1990s by Beef Products Inc. of Dakota Dunes and in BPI plants in Amarillo, Texas, Garden City, Kan., and Waterloo, Iowa.
BPI announced Monday that the Texas, Iowa and Kansas plants are being closed while the company works to address public concerns about the byproduct. The three plants destined for closure produced a cumulative total of 900,000 pounds of LFTB daily. The shutdown will idle about 600 workers.
The controversial food product is created by taking tiny pieces of beef and fat left over from processing, heating the mixture, and then using a centrifuge to spin off the fat. The resulting product is then sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill dangerous bacteria and molded into usable packages for eventual use with other products.
New reports estimate that “pink slime” is incorporated into 25 to 30 percent of the ground beef sold in the U.S.
Fast food operations like McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell, responding to customer concerns, have stopped buying meat with LTFB.
The product was used for years in some ground beef distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school lunch program, but negative publicity has some districts rethinking its use.
Boston schools have quarantined 70,000 pounds, or $500,000 worth, of government ground beef, pending a closer analysis of the meat’s contents, according to a recent New York Times report.
Food Service Director Sean Moen said the Mitchell School District has about 140 cases of USDA ground beef, but none with the controversial byproduct.
“We do not have that product,” Moen said, “and we don’t intend to buy any.”