Before I continue though, let me explain what LFTB actually is. If you have ever trimmed the fat off of beef, I’m sure you have been frustrated to have to throw away perfectly good pieces of meat simply because it’s too hard to cut around the fat. Well, this is what the process does. Instead of wasting meat that is trimmed for other cuts, it is recovered, thereby reducing the price of ground beef at checkout because less cattle are used along the way. In the same statement, Boyle writes that now, the AMI will have to work to “grow as many as 1.5 million more head of cattle to replace the beef that will no longer be consumed due to this manufactured scare.” Cue outcry from environmentalists.
Critics accuse the meat of being: less healthy, “filler”, coming from inedible meat, ought to be labeled, is filled with chemicals and let’s not forget, looks like pink slime. These are not facts but myths, and are set straight here. I will touch on some of them in a moment, but first, the heart of the issue seems to be the serious repercussions of misinformation and misrepresentation that spread like wildfire through media outlets. The Media Research Center reports that “In all, ABC used the term “pink slime” 52 times in just a two-week span” and that The Associated Press “continued the string of biased attacks against the company.” The MRC’s Dan Gainor writes:
“Naturally, AP turned to the food police for comment…and “celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.” Oliver, who has a reported net worth of $25 million, was unconcerned about the job loss and “praised ‘people power’ for getting it removed from so many products,” according to AP.”
To no one’s surprise, Gainor notes that “none of the broadcast stories mentioned that the company takes the extra step of adding ammonium hydroxide in an effort to prevent deadly E. coli bacteria.”
There are times that waging a campaign against a company’s practices or products are warranted but only after thorough and balanced research are conducted. Currently, there are serious food safety issues at play - like the fact that only 2 percent of all imported foods are FDA inspected - but LFTB is not one of them. So, I want to set the facts straight about two of the most serious accusations against LFTB; the use of ammoniated hydroxide and the issue of transparency.
BPI’s use of ammonia is because the company is following the rules and regulations set forth by the USDA, which are admittedly influenced like much else in this world: politics. John Munsell, who ran a USDA-inspected meat plant for 34 years, wrote in an op-ed on Food Safety News:
“Although USDA has declared E. coli O157 to be an adulterant, the agency conveniently states that the E. coli is an adulterant only in ground beef and in boneless trimmings destined for ground beef. However, USDA allows intact cuts of beef surface-contaminated with E. coli to be shipped into commerce.”
Why, you ask? Munsell continues:
“As such, Americans are virtually guaranteed ongoing disease outbreaks from contaminated meat, because USDA refuses to implement enforcement actions at the source of the contamination, preferring to use its regulatory authority at smaller downstream plants that are easier enforcement prey and lack the political clout and financial wherewithal enjoyed by the multinational slaughter behemoths.”
Alas, BPI’s government mandated use of these ‘antimicrobial interventions’ in LFTB actually make ground beef safer than the unassuming filet or ribeye sitting in your grocer’s display.
The next question is about transparency: Should this process be on the label? Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA responds:
“There's a whole legal and regulatory framework that we work within, in terms of what's considered an ingredient and what's considered an additive. With this product, we consider this to be beef. We don't label any of the other components that go into ground beef either. We start with beef, there's a treatment that's applied, and it ends up as beef. There's certainly some consideration in terms of being more transparent with the school lunch program so school districts can make choices. Sure we're open to the discussion, but, as I said, it's an existing legal framework we work within as far as what is considered an additive and what needs to be on the label.
There are lot of things that go into the production of food and to sort of single this one out and to say that this one needs to be labeled -- that doesn't seem like a very even handed approach.”
So it would seem that BPI was operating in total compliance with government rules and regulations. And moreover, the product is safe and in fact, safer than other beef products and international food imports. What were promulgated throughout the media about LFTB were not facts at all, but baseless accusations free from any relevant context. So what do these activists really want? It seems for people to lose their jobs and a company’s image to be unjustly tarnished. If it was truly about food safety, perhaps they should try looking more closely at government agencies like the FDA and USDA first.