The maker of lean beef trimmings — on whose behalf Gov. Terry Branstad crusaded last week — donated more than $500,000 to Iowa Republican candidates over the past decade and was the top agricultural contributor to the governor’s latest re-election bid, records show.

Beef Products Inc. (BPI) claims to be the largest producer of beef trimmings in the world. A social media campaign in recent weeks has derided the company’s lean, finely textured beef as “pink slime,” and some fast-food chains, supermarkets and school cafeterias are dropping its use.

The company’s top executives and employees have contributed at least $546,500 to candidates for state office in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas, where it has plants or other operations.

Republican governors or lieutenant governors from the five states traveled last week to South Sioux City, NE, to tour the company’s plant there. Branstad organized the event, which was followed on Thursday by a news conference where he and others touted the health and nutritional benefits of the hamburger filler marketed as lean, finely textured beef.

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