Bill Marler, one of the nation’s leading food safety lawyers, has publicly praised Beef Products Inc. (manufacturer of lean, finely textured beef, commonly known as “pink slime”) for leading the industry with its advanced E. coli testing. (As have I, by the way.)
But even without taking issue with the product per se, Marler rightly criticizes BPI for keeping consumers in the dark about the nature of LFTB and the ingredients used to make it. In a post today on his Marler Blog, he writes:
Not openly explaining how the food product was made and what all the additives and ingredients are was a foundational mistake for this CEO. Of course, even 10 years ago it was possible to have an idea for a food additive (err, processing aide), to get a college professor hungry for research dollars to give it high marks, and to get a government bureaucrat yearning for a post-public sector job, to approve its quiet introduction into commerce. Those days are done.
It was also a bad idea to ignore dissenting expert opinions that made it into memos and emails. Documents, especially electronic ones, now exist forever, and, if there exists something negative about your product it cannot and should not be ignored.
He then gives BPI some sound advice on how to end its current public relations nightmare, including (1) not shooting (or suing) the messenger — and as one of many “messengers”about LFTB, amen to that — and (2) not playing “the political card.” That latter advice comes too late, of course, after last week’s governor-heavy BPI press conference, which Marler skewers:
Sure, you have given hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions) to politicians (hopefully from both parties – Republicans and Democrats will equally prostitute themselves), but do not make them dance in support of your product as they try to explain that the money you threw at them has no bearing on their willingness to dance.
In the end, advises Marler:
Why not say it was a mistake to hide from the public all ingredients and additives that are in the product? Tell the consumer what they already know – they have a right to know.
The post is a must-read whether you loathe “pink slime” or are a staunch supporter of Beef Products Inc. and feel the company has been unfairly maligned.