Consumer Backlash Over Lean Fine Textured Beef Costs Workers Jobs- and Tightens Beef Supply Even More
Wed, 28 Mar 2012 06:01:15 CDT
Recent media interest in lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which some have called "pink slime," has caused some confusion among consumers. LFTB is simply beef that has been separated from the fat in beef trimmings. Trimmings are chunks of meat that result when large carcasses are broken down into steaks, roasts and other cuts. In the past, these trimmings were wasted because a surgeon's skill was required to separate the lean from fat and create a product that consumers would enjoy. A new technology became available twenty years ago that has helped prevent the waste of these beef trimmings.
The only difference between LFTB and other beef is it's separated from the fat mechanically instead of with a knife. It gets a puff of ammonia gas or citric acid as a food safety measure the same way many other foods do. There is a difference in texture because of the mechanical separation, but that doesn't mean any difference in quality.
One company owns the rights to this technique and produces LFTB. BPI - or Beef Products - has had to suspend operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas, Garden City, Kansas and Waterloo, Iowa as a result of backlash over their lean finely textured beef. A total of 600 employees will be affected at the plants.
On today's Beef Buzz, we hear from beef industry executive Nancy Degner on the process and how this activist move against the product will actually cost consumers money as it tightens supplies of ground beef at a time of overall tight beef supplies.
In addition to today's audio with Degner- you may also want to look at the video we have here from the American Meat Institute- Janet Riley talks about the process that is nothing new when it comes to the production of ground beef in the United States.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the listen bar below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.