Responding to widespread consumer concern, the nation’s second and third largest grocery chains, Safeway and SuperValu, will stop selling Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), otherwise known as ‘pink slime,’ ABC World News reported Wednesday.
Safeway said “considerable consumer concern” led to its decision to drop the product, even though the company and the the U.S. Department of Agriculture insist the product is both safe and wholesome. SuperValu and Food Lion, also a top grocery store, announced they will no longer carry the product, also citing consumer concern.
The nation’s largest grocer, Walmart, said its ground beef contains LFTB, but the supermarket giant will soon offer consumers a choice, according to ABC.
ABC World News took credit for the consumer reaction, even though its reporting was in response to The Daily first re-reporting issues that had been brought up by the New York Times in 2009. The iPad paper also pointed to the fact that USDA was gearing up to purchase more of the product for the national school lunch program.
“We found that the filler was added to 70 percent of the ground beef sold in this country. Consumers reacted across America and you took your questions straight to the department of the stores where you shop,” said Diane Sawyer Wednesday night on ABC World News, which averages more than 7 million viewers. “Tonight some big supermarket chains are signaling that they heard you loud and clear.”
Safeway said Wednesday that it’s “committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products.”
“While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product. Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef.”
LFTB is essentially low-cost hamburger filler made from leftover trimmings once relegated to pet food and other byproducts. Because trimmings are at risk for E. coli or Salmonella contamination, the company adds a mixture of ammonia and water (ammonium hydroxide) to kill bacteria. The product, which is 90 percent lean, is then mixed in with other, higher fat content ground beef.
Last spring, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver sparked interest in the topic after railing against the product on his ABC reality show. He called the “clever scientific process” shocking and a breach of consumer trust and referred to LFTB as “shit.” Fast food giants McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King all dropped LFTB several months later.
‘Pink slime’ caught fire again this month when Bettina Siegel, a mom and blogger, petitioned USDA to remove the product from school lunches. Since launching her petition at change.org, she has attracted nearly a quarter of a million signatures.