“That’s what’s wrong with the media in this country… no longer do facts matter. Accusations are enough to condemn folks, the press wants the story and doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. Allegations become front page news no matter how flimsy they are.” – Bill O’Reilly
It’s sad how quickly and easily unfounded criticisms of a product can go viral, leading to more than 600 jobs being lost ostensibly overnight. This is what has happened to Beef Products Inc., the world’s leading producer of the USDA-approved Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) or perhaps better known by its recent moniker, “Pink Slime.” While the quote from O’Reilly was in response to a different story, the point applies almost universally and most certainly in this case, too.
Thanks to a three-week campaign waged by a major news organization, celebrity chef, and a mother from Texas who decided to take up this “cause” in the form of an online petition, the company was forced to close three of its four factory doors this week after several fast food chains, grocery stores and school lunch programs were pressured to pull the product.
The president of the American Meat Institute (AMI), J. Patrick Boyle released a statement that blatantly accused ABC News for their “relentless coverage and uninformed criticisms of a safe and wholesome beef product.” He continues to say:
“The impact of alarming broadcasts about this safe and wholesome beef product by Jamie Oliver [celebrity chef], ABC News and others are no joke to those families that are now out of work.”
Politicians like Sen. John Thune publicly criticized the media’s sensationalism of the product, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said “the time for badmouthing and distortions is over.” On Thursday, a group of governors and lieutenant governors toured a BPI facility in Sioux City, Nebraska in support of LFTB and to defend its safety and nutrition. At the press conference there, Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy said he has a new slogan for LFTB: “dude it’s beef.” A host of others including scientists, lawyers and advocates that follow food safety have also come out in support of BPI.