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Gear Up To Battle Pink Slime, Again

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Lean finely textured beef is back in the news. Is the industry ready?

Beef producers, get ready. The bashing of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is gearing up once again. Reportedly, seven states have ordered about 2 million lbs. of LFTB to serve in public schools, and an orchestrated backlash is likely from some quarters.

The beef industry is still stinging from the LFTB scandal that occurred last spring when ABC News ran its sensational “pink slime” coverage on LFTB, and British chef and food blogger Jamie Oliver fueled a social media frenzy against LFTB, using a dramatized demonstration to help stoke the hysteria regarding this USDA-approved product that has been safely in use for decades.

But the news about the inclusion of LFTB on school lunch menus this year came as a shock to some parents and community members who had previously championed a boycott of Beef Products Inc. (BPI) LFTB that led to many school districts vowing to no longer serve the product to students. The news that some schools are again serving LFTB to students has stirred up the controversy once again, although it appears boycotts on use of LFTB in school lunch programs are continuing in some communities.

 

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As reported by Austinist.com, “Austin, TX-area parents concerned about their kids consuming the beef in question at school can rest easy: The ASID [Austin Independent School District] said last year when the hullabaloo reached mass hysteria that they've never served it and never will.”

As the topic of LFTB is revived in the media, I thought it might be pertinent to share some resources that explain what the product is, so we can share this information with others on our social media sites and help alleviate any concerns they might have.

The American Meat Institute has a great resource that will help accomplish just that. It answers many questions about LFTB, and you can refer to it here.

Are you concerned about the press LFTB is getting once again? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 9

W.E. (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2013

LFTB should go into pet food, not school lunches.
More should be done to promote the use of locally produced beef in public school lunches, especially highly nutritious all-grassfed whole cow hamburger from local farms, an affordable source of high-quality natural protein that will appeal to children, satisfy parents, and not break school budgets. Cutting transportation costs alone would save millions of dollars nationwide. The children would be getting a better balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, more beta carotene, and more vitamin E. Most importantly the beef would provide essential conjugated linoleic acid, which helps fight obesity, diabetes, cancer and offers a wide variety of other health benefits not available from grainfed beef and certainly not in LFTB.

on Sep 11, 2013

Where to begin?
1. Science shows LFTB to be safe. Economics of the product allow low-income families to consume a meat-source protein which naturally contains essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
2. Most areas do not have a local source of grass-fed beef available to supply school lunch programs. Also, the economics of natural and grass-fed programs require higher prices to offset the lower production from these systems.
3. "Whole cow hamburger"? I can't vouch for what is happening today, but in the 1980's, I worked for a small company that killed cows (not steers and heifers), most of which were old and being culled from local ranches. We removed all the meat from the bones and sent the boneless beef (required by the purchaser to be minimum of 88% lean) to a processor that combined it with fat from feedlot animals to make a 75% lean ground beef patty for McDonald's.
4. Full agreement with the savings on transportation costs. Also a reduction in air pollution.
5. I have seen no data indicating that grass-fed beef contains a different balance of vitamins, etc.
6. ALL beef contains linoleic, linolenic, stearic, and other fatty acids which either have no impact or positively impact cholesterol, etc.
I believe that products containing LFTB should be available and pose no health risk, but I also believe these products should be labelled so the purchaser knows, allowing the market to decide the fate of this process. If the public does not financially support it, it will disappear. I only ask that the FACTS be given, not a bunch of fear-mongering distortions.

on Sep 11, 2013

W.E. I adamantly disagree about putting LFTB in the school lunch programs. LFTB should be mixed in ground beef in the school lunch programs because it provides a high quality nutritional, economical animal protein source ( brain food) for students in our public schools. LFTB has many (if not all) of the same positive attributes as grass fed beef.
I also, would like to see more locally produced product introduced in the school lunch program, but the likelihood of this happening in the commodities-based ordering program available to the school systems makes it highly unlikely.

To be quite frank, I'm a little tired of the grass-fed producers dissing grain fed beef as inferior product when the scientific evidence does not validate claims made by the grass fed producers. Grass-fed beef is a niche market and likely will remain so because of production limitations and market demands for high quality animal protein sources.

From an economic standpoint, could you as a producer, even in a premium niche market afford the $20 a head lost as a result in non-use of LFTB on days when there is not $20 a head profit in the market. Or any other day for that matter.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2013

I guess what amazes me is our own beef board lets beef take the rap for this but not a word on how we come up with a product called chicken nuggets

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2013

We need to realize that regardless of the safety of LFTB if the consumer doesn't want it then it won't work. We serve a consumer driven market and more and more they are unsure of their food and seem to want to know where their food is coming from and want a more "natural product".

on Sep 11, 2013

If the consumer has the proper information and realizes the benefit in the use of LFTB as the high-quality animal protein source it is, then it will work.

The continuing fear monger tactics of those opposed to LFTB for whatever reason, animal-rights, niche market preference, vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, misinformation about the product and nutrition in general, the list goes on and on, are what holds the product(LFTB) from its proper position as a safe, quality protein source available to today's everyday consumer.

Marissa (not verified)
on Sep 12, 2013

Thank you! I completely agree with you Schedule f. If our consumers are given accurate information many of these issues that have arisen in social media would not be an issue. Well informed, educated consumers means a better market for us all. When social media gets a hold of potential, small issues and blows them way out of proportion with false or inaccurate statements it scares our consumers, causing a much larger issue than would have been ever necessary. Education and advocating about and for agriculture is key.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 18, 2013

Thanks to those who made accurate comments re. LFTB. Real pangs of conscience should smite those who are STILL in the chorus of those who spread false information about that excellent product!!!

LFTB is simply BEEF muscle which has been extracted from the fatty trim of roasts and steaks of high quality beef. It has had the fat removed, and has been treated with a COMMON antibacterial product, in a gas form, used on a multitude of other food products for years with an excellent track record. The beef is ground and sold to be added to fattier hamburger to bring the fat content DOWN to levels demanded by consumers. It has all the nutrients, but LESS FAT than other hamburger, and at a lower price point. Saving that meat from non-food uses dramatically cuts the carbon foot print of beef production. It gives people a lower fat meal, and has never harbored E coli 0157:H7.

Personally, I hope the lawsuit against perpetrators of the lies about LFTB is won and the damages awarded to the company are HIGH. All of us who produce food animals are under attack by organizations and individuals who want to end the consumption of animals, and those in our own business who give them comfort and aid by trashing methods of production with which they disagree do a great disservice.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 23, 2013

Eat Pork Please

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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