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Beef Buzz News

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Weighs in on the Safety of LFTB

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 05:40:22 CDT

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Weighs in on the Safety of LFTB Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a joint news conference to discuss the fallout from recent news reports vilifying Lean Finely Textured Beef. The slang term that has caught the attention of the public is "pink Slime." This has scared many consumers who have demanded that supermarkets offer a product that is free of LFTB- and several major players have backed away from buying ground beef that includes LFTB as a part of its mix as a result.

The fallout has been particularly bad for BPI, the maker of LFTB, as it has suspended operations at three of its four plants. Branstad said 200 workers at the Waterloo, Iowa, plant are without jobs. Plants in Texas and Kansas are also affected. BPI has been making LFTB for 30 years.

“We cannot stand by and watch a company close its doors because people do not know the facts about BPI and the lean beef that it makes and that’s why I’ve been so adamant about telling this story,” Branstad said.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack echoed Branstad’s concerns and said he would do everything he could to remind the public that LFTB is a good product.

“Let me reiterate without any equivocation something that we have said literally hundreds of times-hundreds of times in print media, hundreds of times in broadcast media, and on radio-this product is safe,” Tom Vilsack said.

Branstead will be joined by the Governors from Texas and Kansas- the other two states that have BPI plants that have closed because of the hysteria- meeting up and touring the lone remaining BPI plant still open in Nebraska to "set the record straight." That tour is planned for Thursday. Governors Branstad, Brownback, Heineman, Perry and South Dakota Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels say lean finely textured beef is a safe product that’s been consumed for years.

Not only has BPI been affected by the recent flap - but also grocery stores Hyvee, Super Valu, Safeway, Kroger and Walmart have all discontinued purchasing lean finely textured beef. Branstead told reporters on the media call on Wednesday that he had talked personally with the CEO of Hyvee Supermarkets (based in Iowa) and that they were reconsidering their decision and would make available ground beef with LFTB in their stores once again.

The technique developed by BPI actually recovers enough additional beef from the bone that it reduces the need for 1.5 million additional head of cattle each year. Market watchers say that beef prices could feel more upward pressure if this source of beef is not allowed to be used in making ground product.

Today's Beef Buzz features comments from the Wednesday news briefing held by Iowa Governor Terry Branstead and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Click here for a analysis of the problems caused by this media firestorm over LFTB- through the eyes of Trent Loos.

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.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Tom Vilsack and Terry Branstead
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