U.S. beef consumption has remained strong despite attacks questioning the safety of lean trimmings in hamburger, according to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“We haven’t really seen that much of a drop, maybe a small one-tenth of 1% kind of drop, not significant. We’re still seeing strong markets,” he says.

Vilsack says the department continues to get the word out to the public about lean finely textured beef (LFTB), so consumers can decide for themselves whether they want to purchase products containing the boneless lean beef trimmings. LFTB, he says, is safe, has less fat and, in many cases, is less expensive than products made without LFTB (learn more at beefisbeef.com).

“Eventually, people are going to be looking at a variety of factors as they make decisions in tough economic times. School districts may be faced with tight budgets, and if they’re faced with tight budgets, they have to make tough decisions in terms of this,” Vilsack says.

The livestock industry and a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers initially criticized Vilsack, saying he should have more quickly used his position as USDA Secretary to come to the defense of the meat industry and assure the public about the safety of LFTB.

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