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Publisher’s Platform: Blue Barf, Green Goop, Purple Puke, Red Rubbish or Yellow Yuck

Opinion

What if you were the CEO of a multimillion dollar, privately held food manufacturing company and awoke one morning to find that the name of your best selling product (you previously had painstakingly crafted the name to sound so appetizing) was now known to the public as “Blue Barf,” “Green Goop,” “Purple Puke,” “Red Rubbish,” or “Yellow Yuck?”  

What if you had come from nothing and had worked your adult life to create a product used widely by consumers only to find that those same consumers (despite all your donations to charity) had turned against you?  

Now, instead of consumers happily (perhaps unknowingly) eating millions of pounds of your product yearly in homes, schools and restaurants, many of those consumers are “twittering” and “facebooking” that your product is now pure evil.  Thousands of formerly ignorant consumers are now signing petitions asking for the product to be banned or at least labeled.  Bloggers (those damn bloggers) are recycling news articles of years past that cited emails from former government employees that raised questions about the chemicals in your product and coined the terms “Blue Barf,” “Green Goop,” “Purple Puke,” “Red Rubbish,” or “Yellow Yuck.”  Now the “lame stream” media, “faux” news and the 24-hour news channels are piling on.  And, to pour salt into your wounds, the comedians pounce – making your product the butt end of every late night joke.

Consumers have reacted and pressured grocery stores, schools and restaurants to pull your product.  For the first time in decades sales have dropped.  Your plants are temporarily closed and the specter of unemployed workers weighs heavily on the now isolated CEO.

Sitting in the boardroom (it feels more like a bunker) with family, friends, and a pile of consultants (all of them paid handsomely) the CEO feels more than slightly paranoid, and for good reason.  People are actually out to get him.  He turns to his circle of family, friends and consultants and asks: “Why is this happening?”  “How can we rebuild public trust and sales?”

“Why is this happening?”

Although many food companies and their government minders feel that consumers, like mushrooms, are best left in the dark, today where information, accurate or not, is accessed on smartphones, the old rules simply do not apply.  

truth.jpg“Why is this happening?”  It is happening because the CEO did not trust consumers with the truth.  Pre-the easily accessible Internet, companies and governments simply made decisions and assumed the public did not care or did not need to know what was in their food.  That is neither no longer possible nor the case.  

Not openly explaining how the food product was made and what all the additives and ingredients are was a foundational mistake for this CEO.  Of course, even 10 years ago it was possible to have an idea for a food additive (err, processing aide), to get a college professor hungry for research dollars to give it high marks, and to get a government bureaucrat yearning for a post-public sector job, to approve its quiet introduction into commerce.   Those days are done.

It was also a bad idea to ignore dissenting expert opinions that made it into memos and emails.  Documents, especially electronic ones, now exist forever, and, if there exists something negative about your product it cannot and should not be ignored.

“How can we rebuild public trust and sales?”

First, there are a couple of things not to do.  

Do not shoot the messenger.  Blaming what is now happening on the media or the moms who are concerned about their kids health never works.  Had you not built the foundation of your business in part by deciding the public did not need to know something – even something that you believed was good for them – the explosion of negativism you are now experiencing would have been a passing storm instead of a hurricane.

Do not threaten legal action against anyone.  There are too many good lawyers (this one included) who would gladly take up their defense – pro bono.

For goodness sakes, do not play the political card.  Sure, you have given hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions) to politicians (hopefully from both parties – Republicans and Democrats will equally prostitute themselves), but do not make them dance in support of your product as they try to explain that the money you threw at them has no bearing on their willingness to dance.  And, please do not make them eat your product or say how safe it is in front of the national media.  No one will believe people that you paid to endorse your product.  Remember, politicians are considered only slightly more trustworthy than lawyers, however, both are in single digits.

So, how can you rebuild sales when what consumers see and hear are “Blue Barf,” “Green Goop,” “Purple Puke,” “Red Rubbish,” or “Yellow Yuck?”

Simple, just tell the truth.

Why not say it was a mistake to hide from the public all ingredients and additives that are in the product?  Tell the consumer what they already know – they have a right to know.

Why not tell the public how the product is made and what is in it?  If you are proud of your product, explain in honest and clear terms why you are.  

Tell the consumer what the real benefit of the product is.  Does it taste good?  Is it healthful?  Does it save on energy?  Is it sustainable?  Does it create good jobs?  Is it good for the environment?

Is the product itself, what is added to it, and the process to make it, safe?  What have been and are your lab test results?  Why not post them online?  If you are proud of the safety of your product, prove it.

Invite the public, not politicians, to your plant for a tour and a taste test.  

Bottom line:  If you have nothing to hide then hide nothing.

Humans have a great capacity to forgive when they are told the facts.  Perhaps someday “Blue Barf,” “Green Goop,” “Purple Puke,” “Red Rubbish,” or “Yellow Yuck” will be forgotten and the name you so painstakingly crafted to sound so appetizing will be remembered – Dude.

© Food Safety News
  • http://eco-babyz.com Eco-Babyz

    Good article! I’m a mom blogger – I consider my platform to be ‘word of mouth’ more so than ‘press’, so I just relay information that I may think affects moms and kids. Gone are the days when you could hide things. Wish they would just tell us the truth about all these processed products and what is in them! Don’t even get me started on the political card! I cannot stand when the food and drug industry buy our government, unfortunately that’s done every day.

  • pawpaw

    Our family has been discussing LFTB and BPI. At the grocery yesterday, my son scanned the ingredients of prepared meats. For Turkey Bacon, top two ingredients listed are turkey and “mechanically separated turkey”. Had BPI chosen to label LFTB “centrifuge separated beef” or similar, where would they be today?
    We’re curious: did the poultry industry choose to disclose/label this voluntarily, or was there a regulatory decision that “mechanically separated meat” must be listed as an ingredient?

  • keith Warriner

    I agree with respect that the turn-off to pink slime has been largely based on the rantings of a few who wish to capture the headlines. As with many aspects of food safety, the science seems to get thrown out the window and the public doesn’t know who to believe. Although the Jamie Olivers of the world loaded the gun it was the fast food chains who pulled the trigger on LFTB. Once the Macs of the world pulled the product its competitors followed suit and the market for LFTB fell like dominos. I think the crisis would not have occurred if the fast-foods took advice from their food scientists rather than their marketing people. In terms of bringing the product back to market, sell burgers 20 cents off and the public will flock back. Price always wins.

  • Brian Sauders

    “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”
    -James A. Garfield

  • Steve

    Everyone eats — and it’s not lost on corporations that there’s big bucks to be made in mass manufacturing highly processed, industrially-produced foods and snack items. For marketing — all they had to do was slap a bucolic, farm-esque brand label on it, raise high some Golden Arches and target kids through Tony the Tiger with Plenty of advertising– and make sure there’s a hook of sugar or salt to keep consumers coming back for more.
    Food corporations also know that the less consumers see about how those food brands are actually produced and processed, the better. The exploited labor, CAFO’s, soil abuse, toxic pesticide use, ocean dead zones, antibiotics, chickens fed mercury-medicated feed and beef cattle fed chicken manure ETC that are everyday features of our industrialized food system are purposely kept out of sight/out of mind. When things leak through — the job is to get on the phone to the politicians to pass Ag Gag laws or, in this case, stand up for the use of ammonia-ized cutting room floor meat scraps in the food supply.
    The CEO’s main JOB is to pay total attention to the short-term bottom line — by cutting labor and raw materials costs at every turn, increasing market share and directing damage control — all to produce a return on investment for shareholders – NOT to produce the highest quality product for consumers (unless they’re in high-end markets like rare wines and expensive motor cars).
    While this paradigm is the basis for manufacturing goods and services (as we watch the communist Chinese beat us capitalists at our own game) — producing the cheapest goods possible to gain volume sales and market share is a poor way to go about producing healthy food — and consumers are beginning to understand this.
    As these industrial production methods — done “for us” in all our names, and the name of cheap food — become more and more transparent, CEOs can expect more and more sleepless nights. And even if they understand that consumers are demanding authentic food in the marketplace, the name of the corporate game is the market demands of shareholders come first…

  • Ted

    I respectfully disagree, Bill. There was no consensus by consumers. The smear came from a handful of activists with various agendas and motives and it is not clear how many were, themselves, actually consumers of the product. A lot of brain-dead joiners piled on the bandwagon as usual, but there is no evidence each of these was a consumer either. I think BPI should sue the messenger…and the smearing “angry mom” bloggers…and any agenda-driven ass who maliciously spread misinformation. Give these hateful pukes an inch and they will gleefully misinform a couple of continents. They have no journalistic or scientific integrity. Many are purely ignorant, and deliberately so. How are they to be made accountable for their actions? When someone poisons the populace with tainted food we track them down and set them straight. How is it any different for evil-doers who poison the populace with tainted misinformation? Why do they get a pass?

  • Wynann Brownell

    Thank you for the article. I TOTALLY agree with all of it. And Ted, I’m not a brain-dead consumer. I’m very concerned with what I put in my body and the poision that ceo’s and such hide from us, in my opinion, is that if we really knew, we wouldn’t buy their crap! You have a right to your opinion as I do and I resent being called a hateful puke or brain-dead because my intelligent mind wants to keep my body healthy! Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Michael Vaughn

    I agree with this message – transparency is the “new norm” that must be adhered to when dealing with modern consumers. (All large business sectors are under scrutiny.) BPI will survive, as I believe they will shift their business ventures to foreign markets, as did the tobacco industry did when they lost market share here in the states.
    It seems as though the media is ganging up on this particular business, while in fact they are ones who are trying give the populace what they deserve – information. Something that BPI has failed to do.
    Ted’s statement: “There was no consensus by consumers….” is false. The consensus came from the outrage of being kept in the dark, “like mushrooms,” misinformed by BPI, our government officials, supermarkets, and the food industry in general, and only given the heads up by the few who make it their business to care. Further, we were outraged by the crony-style relationships, paid-for public relations stunt, meant not to inform, but to save the company’s image, and the CEO’s way of life; that did not help BPI’s image at all.
    This whole issue is a PR gaffe in the tenth degree.

  • http://www.johnmunsell.com jmunsell

    Since transparency is the issue here, I have a confession to make! When I still owned my USDA-inspected slaughter/processing facility, I sprayed lactic acid onto carcasses on the kill floor, just prior to pushing them into the chill cooler. But……..I did NOT disclose this secret on any labeling. Nor do any other packers who use lactic acid. Don’t like lactic acid? Well, okay, our industry can provide you meat treated with peryoxacetic acid. You don’t like this brand of acid? Okay, we’ll give you meat treated with acetic acid or acidified sodium chlorite….and so forth. We refer to these as “Organic Acid Applications”, or commonly accepted antimicrobials.
    Do consumers want us to reveal all these chemicals (including ammonia hydroxide) on labels? One immediate problem is that labels might become larger than the package of meat. Secondly, all these antimicrobial interventions are considered as “Processing Aids”, not Additives because they dissipate/evaporate prior to packaging. The opposite of this would be items used in production which stay in the product all the way to the consumer. For example, water and flavorings added to meat as marinades.
    Besides being a beef lover, I crave chocolate and baked goods, both of which are exposed to ammonia hydroxide to some degree. Yet, I’ve never seen labeling on chocolate or baked goods revealing the use of ammonia hydroxide during processing.
    My question is whether we consumers demand to know the plethora of processing items used in the production of everything offered for sale. If so, the gov needs to rewrite the distinctions between (a) processing aids and (b) additives, and simply classify everything as “additives”, in spite of the fact that in many cases no trace of the item can be detected in the finished product.
    BPI did not fraudulently hide the fact that its LFTB had been exposed to ammonia hydroxide. BPI produced products under USDA protocol which has maintained a distinction between additives and processing aids. If we don’t like to be denied access to all production details, our argument should be taken to USDA, not businesses which have been operating under and in full compliance with official gov policies. This is NOT primarily a labeling issue! The issue here is whether we consumers feel USDA is adequately protecting food safety and consumer rights. Ammoniated meat is safe, I’ve seen no argument to the contrary. So, this discussion distills down to the rights consumers have to know all the production details of an item, including delineation of processing aids, the presence of which ironically cannot be found in finished products.
    If BPI is guilty of something here, and if my plant and thousands others are guilty of not revealing our use of organic acids during production, accusing us of improprieties is counter-productive and mislead, since we are merely using government-sanctioned protocol which produces safer food. Don’t shoot arrows at me for following gov policies! Take your issue to USDA!
    John Munsell

  • lin sasman

    good articulation, Bill
    I signed a petition to ask for labeling — I believe in consenting adults—
    and schools and institutions are not serving consenting adults
    I’m still waiting for a petition to sign on for labeling nanotechnology in products which can cause these molecular sized chemicals to stay in our bodies
    but already signed the one asking labeling for genetically altered products

  • Rosa P.

    @ lin
    Among consenting adults is fine.
    However, BPI did not consent. Bettina Seigel and ABC news and prurient cult followers merely bent BPI over and had their way with them…and with us real American consumers. When we can straighten up again and the pain subsides we are going to be mad as hell. An unforgettable and unforgivable transgression, this. If BPI lets these internet vandals off the hook without even a court appearance that, too, will be unforgivable.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Finally, someone who gets it. Excellent.
    Excellent, excellent, excellent.
    Stores offering alternatives is one good choice for the company, especially if the adulterated product is cheaper. But don’t hide its use.
    Dudes.

  • http://www.johnmunsell.com John Munsell

    Since transparency is the issue here, I have a confession to make! When I still owned my USDA-inspected slaughter/processing facility, I sprayed lactic acid onto carcasses on the kill floor, just prior to pushing them into the chill cooler. But……..I did NOT disclose this secret on any labeling. Nor do any other packers who use lactic acid. Don’t like lactic acid? Well, okay, our industry can provide you meat treated with peryoxacetic acid. You don’t like this brand of acid? Okay, we’ll give you meat treated with acetic acid or acidified sodium chlorite….and so forth. We refer to these as “Organic Acid Applications”, or commonly accepted antimicrobials.
    Do consumers want us to reveal all these chemicals (including ammonia hydroxide) on labels? One immediate problem is that labels might become larger than the package of meat. Secondly, all these antimicrobial interventions are considered as “Processing Aids”, not Additives because they dissipate/evaporate prior to packaging. The opposite of this would be items used in production which stay in the product all the way to the consumer. For example, water and flavorings added to meat as marinades.
    Besides being a beef lover, I crave chocolate and baked goods, both of which are exposed to ammonia hydroxide to some degree. Yet, I’ve never seen labeling on chocolate or baked goods revealing the use of ammonia hydroxide during processing.
    My question is whether we consumers demand to know the plethora of processing items used in the production of everything offered for sale. If so, the gov needs to rewrite the distinctions between (a) processing aids and (b) additives, and simply classify everything as “additives”, in spite of the fact that in many cases no trace of the item can be detected in the finished product.
    BPI did not fraudulently hide the fact that its LFTB had been exposed to ammonia hydroxide. BPI produced products under USDA protocol which has maintained a distinction between additives and processing aids. If we don’t like to be denied access to all production details, our argument should be taken to USDA, not businesses which have been operating under and in full compliance with official gov policies. This is NOT primarily a labeling issue! The issue here is whether we consumers feel USDA is adequately protecting food safety and consumer rights. Ammoniated meat is safe, I’ve seen no argument to the contrary. So, this discussion distills down to the rights consumers have to know all the production details of an item, including delineation of processing aids, the presence of which ironically cannot be found in finished products.
    If BPI is guilty of something here, and if my plant and thousands others are guilty of not revealing our use of organic acids during production, accusing us of improprieties is counter-productive and mislead, since we are merely using government-sanctioned protocol which produces safer food. Don’t shoot arrows at me for following gov policies! Take your issue to USDA!
    John Munsell

  • doc raymond

    john Munsell, I agree with you on everything you said.
    Dude, it’s Beef.

  • Steve

    Where’s the Beef?
    well…. if the definition of beef is anything economically-capturable and even remotely connected to the bled-out beast hanging by a leg on the slaughterhouse “disassembly line” — then yup — Dude, it’s Beef.
    Of course, in the case of “pink slime” you have to add a bunch of industrial processes — including heat and a centrifuge to remove all that fat and doses of ammonia to kill the toxic microbes — to that definition.
    Seeing as how these cow part scraps could not be packaged-as-is or safely sold without considerable industrial processing — is this value-added as the PR corporation-speak claims — or valued detracted as consumers reject it en masse in the marketplace??
    But if it’s going to be marketed via supermarkets and fast food joints or pushed through school lunch programs — then Dude — people should have a choice and it should be labeled…

  • http://www.johnmunsell.com jmunsell

    I’d like to comment to Steve’s statement above “Seeing as how these cow part scraps could not be packaged-as-is or safely sold without considerable industrial processing..” I respectfully disagree. While it is true that trimmings which might be 70% – 90% fat (very little lean) can’t be sold to consumers because we avoid grease, the lack of a sale is not caused by pathogenicity, but by its high fat content. Trimmings which are real fat are every bit as safe as trimmings which are 80% or more lean. No one is claiming that pathogens are drawn to fat, while avoiding lean; nevertheless, this idea has falsely permeated the discussion on LFTB. Realizing that trimmings which have a high fat content emanate from the same carcasses which produce lean trimmings, as well as roasts and steaks, items which we don’t classify as unsafe. Many steaks and roasts have outside surfaces which were outside surfaces on carcasses. Thus, these outside surfaces of steaks and roasts have the same probability of harboring pathogens are trimmings, regardless of the fat content of the trimmings.
    A culprit in this discussion is the fact that USDA itself has publicly stated that beef trimmings (regardless of fat content) are “High Risk”. Huh? Egads, if the agency’s admission is truthful, our beef industry has a garantuan problem, since trimmings and boxed beef all emanate from the same carcasses and intact cuts which course through commerce in containers bearing the official USDA Mark of Inspection.
    If Steve’s statement that scraps cannot be safely sold without considerable industrial processing is correct, well folks, even our steaks & roasts are likewise unsafe.
    We need USDA/FSIS to step up to the plate on this, and explain why they consider trimmings to be “High Risk”, and then explain why non-trimmings are not high risk. If we have a scandal here, it’s not LFTB; it’s the agency’s endorsement of our industry’s right to ship meat into commerce which USDA considers to be “High Risk”.
    John Munsell

  • ecofoodoligist

    Great article. I have been frustrated for years that packers and processors (like Mr. Munsell, and Ted above) presume that all consumers don’t want to know what happens to their food. I am happy to have truth to cover packaging with some occasional bold type rather than the nonsense that currently covers packages… Like “Part of a great breakfast with 8 vitamins and iron” Ughhhh! What a load of CRAP. Even the word Organic has been tainted to the point that shoppers can’t easily determine what it means. Organic is on the path to be subsumed by ordinary pesticide laden products. And be assured that I don’t presume non-organic products are inherently bad or that pesticide users are nefarious villains.
    Yes, the joiners piled on, but they, and I are frustrated by the misinformation that is sometimes vomited by food industry representatives about self policing. All marketing should be done by the industry (not the USDA). All policing should be done by some agency responsible directly to the served population and both are due for some Q&A. Regulators should have the education and latitude to do their jobs well. Elected reps should not be under constant threat of industries like Poultry. (In 2009 Purdue Farms tried to affect legislation to cut funds for the U of MD Law Clinic because UMDLC raised questions about their contribution to Ches. Bay Pollution.)
    And what is the problem if we all become more expert on what we eat. How does that hurt people. We would have less time for mindless tweeting and reality shows. The upside would be a demand,by people, for better food and excellent production practices. And the willingness to pay for them. To that there is the tired, predictable, argument from cheap calorie profiteers, that we must feed the 9B and the poor. The poor are subsisting on soda and fast food burgers. What have they got to loose. They can’t concentrate on the education necessary to climb out of poverty. Give me a break!
    It has been a long used expression that we don’t want to know how the “sausage” is made. That is not so for an increasing number of Americans. This American wants to know how my sausage is made, how it is regulated, how it is marketed, and how that marketing is regulated. And yes, if in the end it means that I can afford less sausage. I’ll live with that too.
    I hope, after my rant, that Mr. Marlar does not mind me evoking his name, but he it right. “If you are selling quality, sell it.” and don’t obfuscate. The public has, for the most part, become ignorant sheep regarding food. This is a moment for teaching by the industry, and elected representatives. How will we use it? ef

  • Steve

    Hi John Munsell,
    Regarding my statement: “Seeing as how these cow part scraps could not be packaged-as-is or safely sold without considerable industrial processing..” — I think you misinterpreted me here — maybe because of my run-on sentence… but I never intended to single out fat as a special harborer of pathogens.
    My first point is that consumers won’t find raw beef fat trimmings for sale — as is — for human consumption in a supermarket meat case or on fast food menus — because it’s largely inedible and as you say it “can’t be sold to consumers because we avoid grease.”
    The second part of my sentence said “OR safely sold without considerable industrial processing.” Again I’m talking about cutting room fat scraps that were previously deemed unmarketable because of, yes, their “High Risk” food safety dangers — in addition to their high fat content.
    Whether one agrees with USDA’s High Risk designation or not — BPI stepped into the fray with it’s “lean, finely textured beef” (LFTB) product DERIVED from beef-fat and connective tissue trimmings — aka “pink slime”. And, the fact is, one of BPI’s primary selling points — because of the centrifuge fat-removal processing and sterilization treatment with ammonia — is Food Safety. And indeed Food Safety has been touted as Exhibit 1 in the company’s defense ever since the fat hit the fan.
    I have much respect for your industry-insider working knowledge of the meat industry, John — and I always learn a lot from your (sometimes whistle-blowing) posts. Let me just say from reading your posts my confidence in USDA/FSIS oversight hasn’t gotten any stronger!
    For consumers, the only truthful approach here might be to apply USDA’s High Risk designation to ALL meat cuts — for the reasons you have given — “Thus, these outside surfaces of steaks and roasts have the same probability of harboring pathogens are trimmings, regardless of the fat content of the trimmings.. ”
    The fact is meat surfaces stand to be contaminated — or at least should be regarded as contaminated so consumers can pay more attention to handling and protect their kitchens and cutting boards.
    And, recognition of that other way of selling meat scraps — ie. grinding them up for burgers — is also important for consumer safety — since the pathogen-prone outside surfaces have been turned inside — and mixed with scraps from hundreds of other cows. Further, the industrialized “meat tenderizing” process with tiny needles to make tougher cuts more chewable can also contaminate meat interiors with surface pathogens…

  • dave

    We now have a society with new communication tools, and we are still learning the impact they will have.
    Fanning fear used to sell newspapers, now it sells blogs, internet sites, & TV ratings. The public always was, and continues to be, suspicious of big business and big government. Now we have a tool (like this e-newsletter)which each of us feels empowered to rant against “The Man” who we think oppresses us.
    Consumers are bombarded with “new facts” on inhumane treatment of farm animals, abused chinese workers making iPhones or sneakers, police brutality, and endless recalls of cars, toys, and food.
    I don’t think the world now has more people doing bad things, we just see it faster.
    Where is the new “Walter Cronkite” of this era, whom we can trust will present all the facts in a fair and balanced way, and deliver it in a calm, rational manner with no hype or agenda?
    Some of these new tools are being put to good use. Have you watched “Dirty Jobs” or “How’s it made?” Lets use this to present a transparent, educational story based on facts without too much corporate spin. There are many good You Tube videos made with clear information, and then there are those which are obvious hype (pro or con).
    The food ingredient label is not the only means to tell how something is made. Every product will soon have a QR code where endless info can be provided.
    As we all become more “educated” consumers we will need to make some difficult choices. Do I continue to buy my food based on lowest price and most convenient, or do I research each brand and manufacturer to make sure they are following the values I prioritize. If consumers pay more for what they believe is a “better” product, then the market will deliver it.
    Listen and watch, can we shift away from promoting cheap bulk called “extra value meals” and five dollars for 12 inches of…?
    If people don’t like what they are served, or what is being offerred at a store, then they can and should spend their money differently.

  • BB

    I agree with John Munsell to a certain extent. The average American isn’t aware of the difference between “additives” and “processing aids.” BPI was following the regulations as far as that’s concerned. I do agree though that we weren’t getting what we traditionally thought of as “ground beef.” I don’t see the ammonia as being any different from other processing aids that FSIS allows. Is it the centrifuge that’s a problem? Why don’t consumers have a problem with mechanical seperation or advanced meat recovery???? You don’t want “pink slime,” but you’ll eat a hot dog no problem??
    We have become too far removed from the food we eat. People used to grown their own fruits and vegtables and raise their own livestock. Back then, people knew what was in their food because they grew it themselves or got it from somebody local. Now we’re eating mass produced food with ingredients from other countries. Times have changed. I’m glad to see that Americans are growing more concerned about what’s in their food, but BPI’s lack of transparency is what got them in trouble this time

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    John Munsell,
    I would say the USDA is perfectly aware of the presence of pathogens in trim, based on careful studies.
    See
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/aer831/aer831g.pdf
    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Baseline_Data_Domestic_Beef_Trimmings_Rev.pdf
    Where are your scientific studies to refute these from the USDA? Where are your facts? Where is your research?
    Why should we just accept what you say?
    BB, I agree with the sentiment in your comment, but it is time, and past, that we stopped with the nostalgic “We have become too far removed from the food we eat…”, as if everyone a generation or so ago was a farmer.
    It’s been many generations that people in the western world were predominately farmers. What we did have, several decades ago, was a direct connection between the animal and what we see on our plate. We didn’t have industrial means of transforming scraps of meat into uniform tubes in plastic packages. We didn’t have supermarkets where we picked up a thing called “fresh ground beef”, which contained a substance none of us would ever think of as “fresh ground beef”.
    We used to buy a hunk of meat from Joe the Butcher, and we trusted Joe the Butcher. We used to know ground beef was freshly ground beef, because he usually ground it for us, in front of our eyes.
    So if times have changed, it’s not that the majority of people all suddenly left the farm and became lawyers.
    The consumer has not changed. What has changed is all the behind the scenes stuff related to the meat we’ve expected to buy–the use of antibiotics, CAFOs, “adulterated beef”: all these things that are deliberately hidden from us–to the point where states are passing ag-gag laws to prevent undercover investigations of farms (read that, CAFOs).
    Is it really in the best interest of the stores and food producers to have consumers distrust them? Because if they don’t get their act together, that’s exactly what they’re going to get.
    And look what happened to BPI as a result.

  • http://n/a Ande

    Being a food product development professional who worked in the meat industry I must say this is right on! The guy who invented this “product” (I used that term loosely) paid off some USDA friends to get this labeled as BEEF. Where the “product” post processing is anything but. In fact you can’t even condisder it protein for formulation purposes because its completely non functional, a filler. That is why McD’s can label their burger as 100% beef, when they were more like 70% beef and 30% nasty pink slime.
    This product should be labeled as “mechanically separated beef” just like the poultry ingredients that are out there following a similar process. Check your ingredient statements. Mechanically separated beef was determined to be illegal in this country due to Mad Cown concerns, so this CEO found a way around it.
    Like I said to my family and friends when this story hit, Your consumer dollars have more of an impact than any politician in DC. You stopped buying and the company has no choice but to stop production. It would take years to enact that legistaltion in DC. YEARS!
    Buy what you think is right, and if you don’t know ASK!

  • http://www.johnmunsell.com John Munsell

    I’d like to comment to Steve’s statement above “Seeing as how these cow part scraps could not be packaged-as-is or safely sold without considerable industrial processing..” I respectfully disagree. While it is true that trimmings which might be 70% – 90% fat (very little lean) can’t be sold to consumers because we avoid grease, the lack of a sale is not caused by pathogenicity, but by its high fat content. Trimmings which are real fat are every bit as safe as trimmings which are 80% or more lean. No one is claiming that pathogens are drawn to fat, while avoiding lean; nevertheless, this idea has falsely permeated the discussion on LFTB. Realizing that trimmings which have a high fat content emanate from the same carcasses which produce lean trimmings, as well as roasts and steaks, items which we don’t classify as unsafe. Many steaks and roasts have outside surfaces which were outside surfaces on carcasses. Thus, these outside surfaces of steaks and roasts have the same probability of harboring pathogens are trimmings, regardless of the fat content of the trimmings.
    A culprit in this discussion is the fact that USDA itself has publicly stated that beef trimmings (regardless of fat content) are “High Risk”. Huh? Egads, if the agency’s admission is truthful, our beef industry has a garantuan problem, since trimmings and boxed beef all emanate from the same carcasses and intact cuts which course through commerce in containers bearing the official USDA Mark of Inspection.
    If Steve’s statement that scraps cannot be safely sold without considerable industrial processing is correct, well folks, even our steaks & roasts are likewise unsafe.
    We need USDA/FSIS to step up to the plate on this, and explain why they consider trimmings to be “High Risk”, and then explain why non-trimmings are not high risk. If we have a scandal here, it’s not LFTB; it’s the agency’s endorsement of our industry’s right to ship meat into commerce which USDA considers to be “High Risk”.
    John Munsell

  • Papa Ray

    Yeah Ande, it was a payoff. Right. Of course some USDA lackey is now lounging in Fiji courtesy of innovative inventors of LFTbeef. Just what this freakish trumped-up farce of a jackass food-fear rodeo needs; more malicious rumors, more evil misinformation. Don’t stop at being over the top, girls. Go for full-blown bats#!t crazy. Live large, heap it on ladies!

  • http://www.johnmunsell.com jmunsell

    Hi Shelley!
    First of all, please provide us your full name, and the name of your employer.
    I’ve read both your links, which contain interesting data, but nothing new. Tim Biela, Dave Theno and JITB all have my utmost respect, as they’ve been intrepid industry leaders. Tim spoke at a Chicago conference on Sept 16 & 17, 2008, entitled “Prevention of E.coli O157:H7: A Conference for Beef Further Processors”. Did we meet there? Tim’s presentations were erudite.
    By any chance, did you attend the Dec 5, 2006 NMA-sponsored conference in Denver entitled “Reducing the Prevalence of E.coli O157:H7 in Slaughter Operations”? Perhaps we met there? I well remember Dr. Engeljohn stating at the conference that FSIS would commence testing trim at slaughter plants. Part of the agency’s justification was that the incidence of E.coli O157:H7 was 3 times greater in trim than in ground beef. Yes, I’m familiar with agency data.
    You do ask a legitimate question “Why should we just accept what you say?” My reply: if you perceive my making untrue remarks, challenge them specificially, one by one, and expose the alleged falsehoods. You won’t offend me. Please specifically elucidate statements I’ve made which you think are untrue.
    And, your full name please, and your employer?
    John Munsell

  • http://www.johnmunsell.com John Munsell

    Hi Shelley!
    First of all, please provide us your full name, and the name of your employer.
    I’ve read both your links, which contain interesting data, but nothing new. Tim Biela, Dave Theno and JITB all have my utmost respect, as they’ve been intrepid industry leaders. Tim spoke at a Chicago conference on Sept 16 & 17, 2008, entitled “Prevention of E.coli O157:H7: A Conference for Beef Further Processors”. Did we meet there? Tim’s presentations were erudite.
    By any chance, did you attend the Dec 5, 2006 NMA-sponsored conference in Denver entitled “Reducing the Prevalence of E.coli O157:H7 in Slaughter Operations”? Perhaps we met there? I well remember Dr. Engeljohn stating at the conference that FSIS would commence testing trim at slaughter plants. Part of the agency’s justification was that the incidence of E.coli O157:H7 was 3 times greater in trim than in ground beef. Yes, I’m familiar with agency data.
    You do ask a legitimate question “Why should we just accept what you say?” My reply: if you perceive my making untrue remarks, challenge them specificially, one by one, and expose the alleged falsehoods. You won’t offend me. Please specifically elucidate statements I’ve made which you think are untrue.
    And, your full name please, and your employer?
    John Munsell

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    John Munsell,
    I asked for substantiation of your argument, and in response, you preen.
    It isn’t difficult to see who I am. There’s a thing called a hypertext link. There’s one attached to my name, and there’s one attached you yours, as well.
    Demanding my name and my employer isn’t answering the question I asked: where is the research that refutes the USDA effort?
    I didn’t ask what conferences you’ve attended. As for your other statements, as an informative aside, you should know that though I can be impressed, I’m never intimidated. So I ask again:
    You have stated that USDA must provide research to back up its claim. I linked research. Evidently you don’t agree with this research, but you’ve not provided anything that can be independently verified to dispute the research.
    Question: do you have any research that can be independently verified that disputes the USDA studies? I don’t think this is a complex question, and it’s definitely related to your comment.
    Or do you need to know my name in order to understand this question?

  • Marie Anderson

    Shelley,
    While at work, in a food plant, I clicked on your link. Our company’s firewall blocked it as a “society and lifestyle” risk. I have no problems getting to Mr. Munsell’s site, cause it’s relevant for work.
    The snipey tone taken by many on both sides, does nothing to earn respect.

  • Sensible Point

    Can’t believe any sane person would defend the use of pink slime or any other such crap by any self-respecting business or govt. agency. Nutso.