A bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday would require the labeling of any beef products that contain lean finely textured beef, the lean beef supplement also known as “pink slime.”
Introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree from Maine’s 1st District, the “Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef Act” (REAL Beef Act) was inspired by growing public demand for lean finely textured beef (LFTB) to both be labeled in supermarkets and removed from the school lunch program.
Pingree, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, also previously wrote a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack demanding LFTB be completely banned from the school lunch program. Dozens of House members signed on.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it would allow schools to choose opt out of serving LFTB.
The REAL Beef Act has ten co-sponsors in the House: Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
In a press release, Pingree said the legislation was about choice and transparency. Consumers who want to avoid LFTB cannot do so unless products containing it are clearly labeled, she said.
Walmart, the nation’s largest grocery chain, has said it will begin labeling beef containing LFTB. Midwest grocery chain Hy-Vee announced it would take a similar approach, while other chains, including Safeway and Supervalu, said they would no longer sell LFTB products.
Last week, Beef Products Inc. suspended operations at three of its four processing plants in response to loss of business from supermarkets and restaurant chains, effectively scaling back production by 70 percent. Its plant in Sioux City, South Dakota is the remaining operational facility.