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30 Lawmakers Ask USDA to ‘Correct the Public Record’ on LFTB

Thirty lawmakers wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday asking what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has done and can do in the future to help stop “the campaign of the misinformation” about Lean Finely Textured Beef, now widely known to American consumers as “pink slime.”

ammoniated-ground-beef-300.jpgCalling the media coverage and subsequent consumer revolt against LFTB “a campaign of misinformation,” members of Congress, many of them from beef states, asked USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to outline what steps it had taken to “correct the public record and educate consumers about the safety of LFTB.”

“Although we believe the USDA is in a unique position to help bring to light the facts about LFTB, we understand that Congress, too, can play a role,” reads the letter. “We will continue to do our part to educate the public about this important issue and the significant role that BPI has played in advancing food safety in America, but we also believe that we must work in concert with the USDA.”

“Given the tremendous amount of simply incorrect information that has been released to the public about LFTB, it is no surprise that some consumers have begin to question the quality of this product,” the letter adds. “However, we understand the truth: LFTB is 100-percent beef, safe, and cost-effective.”

The letter does not detail what specific information FSIS needs to address, but says that LFTB-maker Beef Products Inc.’s “award winning trade record” and food safety record have gone unnoticed by critics “leading the campaign of misinformation.”

Members also say that they support the principle of consumer choice, but “in the current environment of rampant and intentional mischaracterization and misinformation, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that consumers are able to make choices that are based on the facts, rather than emotion and hysteria.”

Thirty members, including Steve King (R-IA), Tom Latham (R-IA) Joe Barton (R-TX), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), signed the letter, which can be viewed via the American Meat Institute website here.

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For a comprehensive timeline of the LFTB controversy, see “BPI and ‘Pink Slime’: A Timeline.” 

© Food Safety News
  • pawpaw

    Still curious. Some turkey products we find in the store, their top two ingredients are listed as “turkey” then “mechanically separated turkey”. Had ground beef ingredient list included “LFTB” (or similar), where would BPI be now?
    Mechanically separated turkey is also “100% (turkey), safe and cost effective”, (it’s turkey, dude) but it’s still labeled.
    Why is mechanically separated poultry meat listed as such, but LFTB or its process not?
    Can the case be made that USDA’s primary disservice to BPI was not requiring the labeling of LFTB in ground beef?
    Hopefully some congress members are asking whether more labeling could have avoided this fallout, whilst making the case for such labeling moving forward.

  • Larry and Karen Andrew

    I suppose one must accept that elected officials that are dependent to one degree or another on financial contributions from BPI are obligated to sign such a petition.
    Even so, I resent these politicians signing a letter which clearly implies that the reason I and many others will not buy hamburger containing LFTB is that our choice is based on emotion and hysteria.
    That is laughable….hysterical!

  • DJ

    The lawmakers said: “it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that consumers are able to make choices that are based on the facts, rather than emotion and hysteria.”
    May I point out, that the consumers where not given a choice about the Pink Slime, because it was not labeled. Consumers are not trusting of foods because there are so many things about it, that we are not allowed to know. Such as, does a food contain adulterated GMOs. Or are there other hidden ingredients that may cause allergies, asthma, cancer or other illnesses. More people are finding out that what we don’t know can kill us, or make us very sick. These lawmakers should stop patronizing consumers, and see to it that there are truthful labels on foods and products, so that we can make informed choices. They can not expect ‘blind’ trust anymore. They have to ‘earn’ our trust.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    The best Congress money can buy.
    Mr. Marler, BPI still doesn’t get it, does it?

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    ‘Federal regulators never sounded safety concerns about it. No one directly linked it to foodborne illnesses or outbreaks. In fact, many food safety activists praised it as a technological marvel in the dangerous world of raw meat.
    That’s why federal officials and the family-owned company that makes this product were slack-jawed when a public backlash erupted last month against what the industry calls “lean finely textured beef.”’
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/pink-slime-outrage-goes-viral-in-stunning-display-of-social-medias-power/2012/04/20/gIQAf5XVT_story.html

  • Chuck

    Anyone who thinks that the support of LFTB by members of Congress has anything to do with BPI or any other company should stop watching Jim Avila. Our elected officials are in place to counter-act things which are a disservice to us. Such a disservice is the way that the media has framed LFTB in such a negative light. It is amazing to see that even when food scientists and government officials support this high quality beef, Jim Avila and others find a way to frame the issue in a way that discredits anything that is said that opposes his Point of View. It’s about revenue dollars. The more people are scared or grossed out, the more they watch the programs to get “the truth”, and the more the networks can charge for revenue dollars. So, guess what? They have grossed you out with the term “pink slime”, and they have scared you by saying that BPI is in cahoots with the Federal Government. The TRUTH is that Pink Slime doesn’t exist, and the policy makers are trying to protect jobs from being lost for absolutely no reason at all. If it was a food safety issue, fine. If it was even a quality issue, fine. But it’s neither. LFTB is safe, high quality, lean beef. That’s it. Let’s start thinking critically again.

  • Chuck

    Anyone who thinks that the support of LFTB by members of Congress has anything to do with BPI or any other company should stop blindly following the news. Our elected officials are in place to counter-act things which are a disservice to us. Such a disservice is the way that the media has framed LFTB in such a negative light. It is amazing to see that even when food scientists and government officials support this high quality beef, media outlets find a way to frame the issue in a way that discredits anything that is said that opposes their Point of View. It’s about revenue dollars. The more people are scared or grossed out, the more they watch the programs to get “the truth”, and the more the networks can charge for advertising time slots. So, guess what? They have grossed you out with the term “pink slime”, and they have scared you by saying that BPI is in cahoots with the Federal Government. The TRUTH is that Pink Slime doesn’t exist, and the policy makers are trying to protect jobs from being lost for absolutely no reason at all. If it was a food safety issue, fine. If it was even a quality issue, fine. But it’s neither. LFTB is safe, high quality, lean beef. That’s it. Let’s start thinking critically again

  • Michael Bulger

    I still disagree with the premise that this is a food safety product. LFTB was not in the food supply prior to this process. The company has acknowledge that they are not perfect and have been involved in recalls due to contamination. (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/31meat.html?pagewanted=all)
    The analogy I’ve made before is this: adding a tablespoon of pasteurized milk to a glass of raw milk does not make the glass safer to drink. I think the same applies to LFTB and the raw beef supply.
    “Dude, it’s raw ground beef.” Cook thoroughly.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Chuck, this adulterated beef product is not “high quality”. Lean, yes. Safe, well as safe as any beef product, most likely. Cheap, oh yes.
    But quality?
    Stores don’t add this adulterated beef product to fresh ground beef in order to _raise_ the price of the end product.

  • federal microbiologist

    I’m flashing back to those halcyon days in the UK in the mid- 1990s when a variety of government officials and politicians went on-camera and in the print media to reassure the public of the ‘safety’ and ‘wholesomeness’ of the food supply in the midst of the ‘mad cow’ / BSE outbreak.
    Ag Minister Douglas Hogg assured the public that ‘British beef is safe’. Food Minister Angela Browning accused the media of recklessly sensationalizing possible dangers associated with beef consumption.
    Reputable scientists who warned that eating beef was associated with a risk of acquiring prion disease were subjected to ad hominem attacks from public relations agencies, beef marketing and advocacy groups, and scientists associated with the beef industry.
    The whole ‘beef is a safe, nutritious, wholesome food, being subjected to unwarranted slander by scaremongers’ farrago collapsed in March 1996, when the English health minster announced that prions acquired from beef were responsible for 10 cases of variant CJD in people under 42 years of age.
    Fortunately, the modern-day ‘pink slime’ controversy is comparatively more benign, focused as it is on the deceptive marketing of processed beef ‘product’, and not directly associated with the epidemiology of an incurable disease.
    But the beef industries and their allies in the US have ignored the hard lessons learned by their counterparts in the UK.
    Rather than abandoning the promotion of beef scraps that are massaged and exported to the public as LFTB, rather than risking their profit margins, the beef industries are going to fund campaigns to discredit those who question ‘pink slime’.
    These campaigns will involve the use of public relations firms that regularly work for clients in corporate agriculture; overnight ‘grass roots’ organizations covertly funded by the industry; university researchers who have taken grant money and consulting fees from beef producers and marketing organizations; and, last but not least, earnest, overwrought testimonials by ‘America’s family farmers’ who want very much to ‘tell our story’.
    [Cue photo of a white, young, fresh-faced woman or girl, wearing denim, standing against a backdrop of a sun-drenched farm field, with maybe a cow or two present, and in large font text overlaid on the photo, the slogan: 'America's family farmers want to set the record straight on beef'. ]
    I’m very skeptical that all the monies being spent by the beef industry on agitprop are going to sway any minds among the informed public.

  • http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/ Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    federal microbiologist wrote ;
    I’m flashing back to those halcyon days in the UK in the mid- 1990s when a variety of government officials and politicians went on-camera and in the print media to reassure the public of the ‘safety’ and ‘wholesomeness’ of the food supply in the midst of the ‘mad cow’ / BSE outbreak.
    Ag Minister Douglas Hogg assured the public that ‘British beef is safe’. Food Minister Angela Browning accused the media of recklessly sensationalizing possible dangers associated with beef consumption.
    Reputable scientists who warned that eating beef was associated with a risk of acquiring prion disease were subjected to ad hominem attacks from public relations agencies, beef marketing and advocacy groups, and scientists associated with the beef industry.
    The whole ‘beef is a safe, nutritious, wholesome food, being subjected to unwarranted slander by scaremongers’ farrago collapsed in March 1996, when the English health minster announced that prions acquired from beef were responsible for 10 cases of variant CJD in people under 42 years of age.
    Fortunately, the modern-day ‘pink slime’ controversy is comparatively more benign, focused as it is on the deceptive marketing of processed beef ‘product’, and not directly associated with the epidemiology of an incurable disease…end
    say there federal microbiologist, i was thinking the same thing, about the MRMs, MSMs, the BSE Inquiry and went back into my files and put together a bit of old history. had to do some work to get the URLs to work again, but i think some of you might find interest and disgust in all this. the USDA, in my opinion, should be banned from the NSLP. …
    PINK SLIME LFTB MSM MRM BSE TSE PRION
    Saturday, April 21, 2012
    HISD seeks refund on burgers with ‘pink slime’
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/04/hisd-seeks-refund-on-burgers-with-pink.html
    layperson
    kind regards,
    terry

  • Javier Gomez

    Yeah, still not going to buy any ground beef unless I am sure it doesn’t contain this cheap filler. As a consumer I can base my decision to buy or not on any reason I want, quit telling us we(consumers)are wrong to feel the way we do.
    Raise the price and we will buy less, tell us we are misinformed and ignorant and that pisses us off.
    New approach: Put it on the label.