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