“‘Blue Barf,’ ‘Green Goop:’” Why Only The Truth Will Set BPI Free

by Bettina Elias Siegel on April 1, 2012

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.

 

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{ 129 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad April 1, 2012 at 9:22 am

Amen!

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Brad April 1, 2012 at 9:37 am

PS – Marion Nestle has a good piece in today’s SF Chronicle and her blog on a similar note – http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/04/the-dilemma-of-pink-slime-cost-or-culture/

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 9:43 am

You missed a very relevant excerpt from his blog post:

Although many food companies and their government minders feel that consumers, like mushrooms, are best left in the dark…

To which I feel it is totally appropriate to add, “… and fed bull****.”

~EdT.

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Justin Giskie April 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

what about the chicken nugget? samething but guess what jamie couldn’t convence anyone so you never tried to push it or a bad name. pick you battles but get the facts first! If you felt the way you do or did you should have got it from the horses mouth not the ***. Did you ever contact bpi before starting your crusade of lies???

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Amy April 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Justin, repeatedly commenters are bringing up chicken. The problem with that argument is that mechanically separated chicken is required to be declared on the label as an ingredient. We know it is there. That gives us a choice. LFTB did not give us that same choice. Check out a label on a cheap package of hot dogs or bologna if you don’t believe me. Plain as day. Ingredients: Mechanically Separated Chicken….no mystery there.

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Lenée April 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thank you, Amy!

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Erin April 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Honestly, I believe the reason people keep bringing up chicken is the fact that the first images the ones of the pink play dough were attached to BPI beef however this widely seen image was actually seperated chicken.

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FreeMarket April 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

I wouldn’t say that a pale pink block of flash frozen beef trimmings is any more appealing.

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Amy April 3, 2012 at 10:49 am

Can you source that pink toothpaste picture? Are you 100% sure that this MSC? I’ve worked with MSC and it has never looked anything like that. So are you unintentionally spreading less than factual information because you don’t fully understand the process of making MSC? ….just as you are accusing others of the same with LFTB?

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Phyllis April 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm
Teri April 3, 2012 at 8:12 am

Exactly, and exactly why I don’t buy anything that says mechanically speparated chicken/turkey- look up the process it’s disgusting, just as is the pink slime. These things have, to me, made meat very unappetizing- I’m now 75% vegetarian and very picky when it comes to my meat selection.

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Matt April 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

The MSC picture that has been spread around has been around for several years…you know…the one with the scoop catching the MSC falling into a box? I can assure, you with 100% confidence, that it is not a picture of LFTB. I can not source it but then again…how many of you fighting against LFTB has any field-work/research committed to beef, chicken, or pork. I’m not that old but old enough to know that you can’t learn everything in a book.

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Amy April 4, 2012 at 8:24 am

Matt, I know the picture circulated is not LFTB. I also highly doubt that it is MSC because I have personally worked with MSC & it has never looked like that. I’m not saying that it isn’t for certainty. I’m saying I wouldnt dare say it was without being able to source the photo to 100% certainty. I have field-work/research. I’m not fighting against LFTB, but I’m also not going to sit back & watch the sugar coating and say nothing. Our family has been in the slaughter/processing business for 6 generations. Large & small. I oversee our HACCP creation, implementation, and on-going verification, including microbiology. I didn’t learn from a text book. I learned from hands on slaughtering, breaking carcasses, & making meat. I get the need for interventions. We all have to have them. However, being transparent about what those are and why we use them is important for our industry as a whole.

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 10:27 am

I am curious, Bettina Elias Siegel; where did you do your research and/or how did you obtain your “information” regarding BPI and the ingredients used? It seems to me that you, too, were terribly misinformed….how tragic.

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

I can’t answer for Ms. Siegel, however many of the specifics regarding LFTB that she mentions concerning BPI were found in a video interview done with the CEO of BPI himself. In other words, they came “straight from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

~EdT.

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Sandie LaMaster April 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Was that a video interview between herself and the CEO of BPI? Please share the link to the video, because I would love to view it.

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EdT. April 4, 2012 at 5:46 am

The interview I saw is contained in a film called “Food, Inc.”

~EdT.

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EdT. April 4, 2012 at 5:49 am

Oh, and to clarify: there wasn’t an interview with both Bettina and Eldon Roth present. It was an interview with Eldon Roth, at the BPI control facility. In it, he states several factoids about LFTB that I have heard mentioned elsewhere, including this blog.

~EdT.

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Laura April 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

Justin and Becky – I see lots of accusations about Ms Siegel being misinformed and lying. Can you please explain precisely what facts you believe she got wriong? I just mean her, not all the people commenting on her FB page or blog, whom she is not responsible for?

Thanks!

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lauren April 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

This is why students in high school are still required to write the 5 or 10 page research paper and cite their resources in MLA or APA form. The aim is to educate the students about the danger of accepting statements as fact without research based information to back it up. If she is going to assert that she is not misinformed, she should be citing her research. The burden is on her since this page is her opinion.

The question is not whether she is lying, she could totally believe what she is saying. I think the question is, where is she citing her sources for her assertions of impropriety on the part of Beef Products? Clearly she believes she is using accurate information from somewhere. I don’t accept that all of Ms. Siegel’s sources are reputable, I haven’t spent a lot of time on her site, but I don’t see any citations references to scientific journals indicating that research has been done to suggest what she is now asserting is true. It is possible the information she is citing has been distributed by others who are simply stating their own opinions, or have either misunderstood the process or have in turn been misinformed, and she just didn’t bother to check *their* sources. In other words, this is why she is writing a blog and not for a peer reviewed scientific journal.

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 11:17 am

I just don’t understand where she got her information concerning the ingredients. I have posted on Today’s LFTB Link Round-Up, which is previous to this blog, what is used in the process.
I can’t understand, if she knew ALL the facts, how this could have turned into the “witch hunt” is has become.
EdT said “many of the specifics regarding LFTB that she mentions concerning BPI were found in a video interview done with the CEO of BPI himself”. I really don’t think Eldon Roth would say or do anything that would jeopardize his own business.
EdT: where would one find this video interview?

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

“Food, Inc.”

~EdT.

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

So, another “Fahrenheit 911″?
Just to be fair, I will watch it.

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Not so much “Fahrenheit 911″ as “Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know”, perhaps.

Even so, it was quite enlightening, watching what was going on at BPI, then hearing the CEO talk about how LFTB was in up to 70% of the ground beef being sold, and how he hoped that would increase to 100% in the future.

~EdT.

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Tracey April 2, 2012 at 11:51 am

I’ve watched this “food inc” movie. It’s horribly misrepresenting the factories in the editing. They use lens filters to make everything look dingy, they play ominous music, and they show machinery that has nothing to do with the process to scare people. Obviously, this movie was made with an ulterior motive. If this movie is what you are using as your source, you need to do some additional research.

The meat that BPI and other companies with similar processes are producing is not made of entrails, lips and butts, like a lot of people have been posting. It comes from the same cuts of beef you would buy your family. When cuts of meat are cut, the fat is cut away, always leaving some meat in the fat. BPI has figured out a way to separate that meat using a 100% safe process. We have to slaughter less cows and it has kept the price of beef lower.

“Food Inc” was made to cause panic, not to inform people of the truth.

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Amateur Mommy April 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Have you seen Earthlings? Free on You Tube. View that and then see what feelings you have about buying meat for your family…

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Lenée April 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Amateur Mommy–I was going to suggest the same thing. That movie will haunt me to the end of my days… :(

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Trixie April 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Standing Ovation for you Tracey!
The public needs to be educated properly by comparing apples to apples, and not by being shown a prune in attempt to represent a ripe juicy plum,

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Justin Giskie April 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

she started with jamie a pink slime scare that what happened and maybe you should show my last post and you will see what i’m talking about. yep but she picked what post to except right so she used the ones that feed her crusade thats how she help promote the pink slime myth with out getting the facts.

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Bettina Elias Siegel April 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

Justin: Your insistence on linking my discussions of this product with Jamie Oliver’s demonstration on his Food Revolution show last summer shows that you are new around here. In point of fact, the day after that show aired, I publicly criticized Mr. Oliver on the grounds that dumping household ammonia on beef was an unfair depiction of this product. And when NPR recently tried to imply that I started this campaign because I, too, linked the ammonium hydroxide with household “cleaning agents,” I demanded — and received – an on-air retraction the next day. So before you accuse me of playing fast and loose with the facts, Justin, I suggest you do a little research of your own. – Bettina

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Justin Giskie April 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

What about the live confrence where jim accused a mother that lost her child to ecoli of takeing money. she said her job was to put her self out of a job! to make sure everyone is safe. she lost her child and would never let anyone try to buy her. just look for it yourself. like i keep saying this is a false crusade to eliminate a safe product. govenors or not the reason they are in on it is because. Wait they don’t know why they have to defend a safe product. sounds pretty simple to me. start helping the economy and help get jobs back for hard workers that are trying to save there jobs on their own time for a company and product that believe in. how many people do you know that would do that?

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Justin – you would be talking about Nancy Donley, who is featured in a previous post on this site, and who is the President and spokeswoman for a group called “STOP Foodborne Illness”, and who admitted in the “press conference” that the organization was receiving support from BPI?

Mr. Marler is correct – making their puppets dance at this “press event” was a poor decision on BPI’s part, and it may come back to bite them square in the butt. Their lack of clue regarding PR damage-control reminds me of that PR Firm whose VP called The Bloggess a very, very naughty thing in a “Reply to All” email.

~EdT.

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Phyllis April 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Puppets? Puppets? hmmmm….

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Justin Giskie April 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

how come the education web site for bpi is blocked from any posts that i put it in. why not give your reads a chance to get the truth?

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Bettina Elias Siegel April 1, 2012 at 11:20 am

Justin: Do not misrepresent. I have never blocked any of your comments on this blog. Not one. But if you try to portray me as unfairly censoring you to influence my readership, I will indeed block your comments from appearing here. Consider yourself warned.

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Justin Giskie April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

why not give your reads a chance to get the truth? give them the web sight! you know the one that you blocked.

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Bettina Elias Siegel April 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

I have never “blocked” a website. I don’t even know what that means or how one would go about it. Is this the site you’re referring to? http://beefisbeef.com/ If so, Justin, it has been posted on this site about a thousand times — now one thousand and one.

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Bettina Elias Siegel April 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Justin: Now I see the problem, I think. You entered “beefisbeef.com” with your comments and expected it to appear. It does but someone has to click on your name first, and then he/she is taken to the site. OK?

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Phyllis April 10, 2012 at 6:16 am

Have you seen the site, Bettina? It contains the TRUTH.

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Chris April 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

Wow, Justin, these comments are not doing your cause a service. It almost makes me wonder whether someone is impersonating you to make you look bad.

Becky: Please, please quote something that Bettina has written that contains any “misinformation.”

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Phyllis April 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I’m not Becky, but here is a direct quote from an earlier comment by Bettina: “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.) ”

Bettina KEEPS calling it “pink slime” – keeping the incorrect term out there for it to settle in the subconscious minds of uninvormed viewers. IT’S NOT PINK SLIME. Check out http://www.beefisbeef.com to learn the TRUTH!

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Trixie April 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

My sentiments exactly. Have quoted same comment from Bettina along with another. Asked if she would kindly not link that term in conjunction with Beef Products, Inc. any longer.

The only place Pink Slime exists is in the Kitchen of Jaimie Oliver
and in the head of a disgruntled individual. Of course there is always gov’t individual whom waited 10 years to speak out, 10 years, hmmmmmmm. He was disgruntled too!

You can’t endorse a product, and in affect slander it all in the same sentence. There are only two sides, it’s simple. In reality there is only one side, because LFTB is not PS, and the only ones benefitting are the competition, and the puppets.

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Phyllis April 10, 2012 at 6:15 am

Thank you, Trixie!

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Laura April 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

Justin – With respect, clearly you are upset about the situation regarding consumer reaction to lean beef trimmings. I understand that. You don’t like that she didn’t focus enough on chicken products, you don’t like what a reporter did at a news conference, you don’t like what Jamie Oliver did on his tv show (I didn’t watch it and I had trouble following you on that post, so I hope I got what you meant), you don’t like that BPI has closed down its plants.
You accuse Ms Siegel of “a crusade of lies” yet you haven’t actually been able to to give an example of any lie.
I have read the beefisbeef site, I have read the lunchtray postings, I have read the foodyardfoodie site among others. I can understand why people are upset about this situation, I am just very confused about what it is they think Ms Siegel lied about, because I seem to have missed it.
I apologize, Ms Siegel, for what my query has done to your comments section. I think you have been very respectful and treated your critics much more fairness than they have been treating you.

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Justin giskie April 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Okay so what drives you? what is your goals now that you see what is happening to communities over this subject? lost jobs and unemployed people trying to get them back. do you support this effect? do u agree with sending kids to school with a healthy lunch? do you want less fat in food? do you want safe healthy food?

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Laura April 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

What drives me? Speaking only for myself, I want to know what I am feeding myself and my family. I want to know what happened before it got to my plate. When I read a package that says 100% ground beef” what it says to me, simplistically, is that a cow was raised and slaughtered, then a portion of it’s muscle was put through a meat grinder, and packaged up. I did not expect that I that beef would contain scraps that have been heated, centrifuged, and chemically treated. Had I been buying it, I would feel feel duped, tricked and decieved. I am not passing judgement on whether it is a safe or nutritious product. But it’s certainly not what I thought it was based on the label.
By the way, I also felt this way when I found out how Tropicana’s “Fresh “Squeezed” orange juice is produced.

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Mary April 2, 2012 at 8:03 am

Amen to that Laura. I feel the same way.

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Blake April 2, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Laura-

Are you familiar with any other food processing plants? Have you been to a packing house? The reason it is packaged 100% beef is because it is in fact 100% beef. The term scraps is used too loosely. I have worked as a butcher and have ground beef. We would cut certain roasts or steaks and the trim or “scraps” that you call it were just simply too fatty to grind into burger. It simply could not be used without precise cutting (and A LOT of time) from the most experienced butcher. Even so its merely impossible. All of these “scraps” are edible, however the amount of fat would be unhealthy. If you ground it and cook it you would just end up with grease. So onto Beef Products process… This process is using centrifuge which allows for that trim (USDA inspected and approved I might add) to be separated into a very healthy lean 100% beef product. So what is it that actually concerns you? I challenge you to take your next grocery cart for your family and research into each and every product, ingredient, etc and see what you find out. What is it that you have found out through this process that brothers you? Heated? Eat at Subway? Find out how all of their deli meats were produced. Centrifuge? I assume you drink milk. Chemically Treated? I am going to assume you drink beer, eat cheese, fruits and bakery items. Ammonia Hydroxide is common in that processing too. Bottom line is this company is doing an outstanding job at supplying us as a vastly growing population with a healthy beef product. They are doing this with innovation and technology. Not only that the company puts food safety first.

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Laura April 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Hi Blake -
The more I learn about food processing the more surprised I am about how things are made. I do certainly have a lot to learn.
I have been very interested to read the information from people who work in the industry about what scraps are actually used.
My mom is a microbiologist; I grew up around petri dishes and I know my way around a centrifuge. I even used to work in a microbiology lab, testing some brands of mass produced ready-made meals.

No, I don’t generally eat at Subway, drink beer, or eat store-bought bakery items. Yes, I do buy fruit from a really great organic farm that delivers to the neighbourhood. I don’t drink milk, but my daughter does. I buy milk from a relatively small dairy farm that does not homogenize or pasteurize at ultra high temperatures. I also eat tofu and I have checked with the companies — they make it the much same way I make it on the odd occason I make it myself — no ammonia hydroxide, with organic, non-GMO soybeans. (I only mention the tofu b/c that is another thing that people like to point out is permitted to be treated with NH3 aq.) I also eat cheese and defintely need to learn more about that process. Pasta, too. Oatmeal surprised me, “fresh squeezed” mass-produced OJ surprised me (I suppose I should have know better, but it sounds so simple). I grind some of my own flours and use honey from a bee keeper friend. I make my own jams and applesauce and freeze or can my own tomatoes. I don’t eat organ meat because I don’t enjoy it and I don’t eat things containing gelatin (unless it’s homemade chicken stock) because I think gelatin is icky. Possibly more than you wanted to know, but you seemed interested.
I cannot claim to know the entire history of everything I eat, but I am disappointed when something I believe to be simple and obvious is really something else.
I understand that the product is beef. I really don’t buy the argument though, that when things are labelled as 100% ground beef, that customers should inherently know that it means it has been processed in this way. What makes it different from cheese to me personally? I realize that I don’t know exactly how cheese is made, so it’s a knowing ignorance on my part. And I realize that probably sounds ridiculous to some people.
I really thought I knew how ground beef was produced. I remember, as a kid, going to the butcher shop and watching them grind the chunks of meat.
My, how times change . . . :-)

I think there are a myriad of reasons that consumers are objecting to the beef trimmings. I cannot speak for anyone but myself.
— I am not a fan of chemicals being added to my foods. (yes, I know that NH3 is natural, etc, but nontheless, it is ADDED in this case.)

— I don’t like being surprised by what is in my food; that is truly what bothers me.

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Lenée April 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Wow, Laura! You just described me in a nutshell. As time goes on, I’m learning more and more, and changing how my family and I do things. I live in a dairy region and have contemplated learning to make my own cheese next. I know a bit about ricotta and mozzarella, but I’d love to learn more about aged cheeses.

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Phyllis April 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm

I’m learning more, too….. seems like you-all have a lot more time on your hands – to make your own jams and jellies (from store-bought fruits? which have been chemically treated?) and can tomatoes ‘n stuff. I sure don’t – I work to earn the money to be able to buy those things; and if the processors feel it necessary to spritz the food with a little bit of chemical to prevent me from getting sick and possibly dying, YES! I’m all for it…

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Laura April 8, 2012 at 11:01 am

Phyllis, it sounds like you are content with your choice; I am content with mine. That’s part of the point here is that we can each make the decisions that work for us — ast least with jam and tomatoes.
I generally buy my large batches of fruit from a farm — it costs far less, even for organic.

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Laura April 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Lenee –
That’s a big nutshell! ;-)
I wnt on a little long because I think some of the new readers here don’t really get it when we say we we care about our food. Probably because we ALL care about what we eat, but at different levels.
But I think we are misunderstood as caring in some vague, philosophical way. Many of us care enough to to ask questions at the store, to make phone calls to companies, to write letters, to search for information and then to truly make informed decisions on what to eat or not eat based on that.
And I don’t believe it is a question of money; I believe it is a question of time and what we choose to do with it. My husband won’t go to the grocery store with me b/c he knows that I take FOREVER, reading every label and trying to sort things out.
I am not saying my choice to do this with my time is the same choice others should make. But I am glad to take the time to do it because that is how much I care about what we eat.

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Lenée April 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Laura–

LOL! Yes! It is quite a large nut! And your comment about how we choose to spend our time–yes, we all have different priorities, and I happen to love to garden, bake, freeze, can, purchase from organic growers, farmer’s markets, local bee keepers, dairies, and butchers who supply sustainable and organic proteins, as well as make my own laundry detergents and cleaning products. It sounds so time consuming, and some of it can be, but after doing it for a while it becomes easier to incorporate it into everyday life, and some of it becomes second nature. And it saves us so much money! And, of course it’s not for everybody. I’m very, very fortunate to have these things readily available to me since moving here 7 years ago. Now, if they would only zone my neighborhood for chickens…..

Anyway, for those who want access to much of this but who live in larger cities or areas where these things can be/are scarce, I think they are at the mercy of larger retailers and should be given options and full disclosure about what is in their products and how they are produced so they can make informed decisions. If I ever moved back to where I lived before, I would really have a hard time unless I had access to all of this information. And yes! I spend hours in the store, and my kids and husband never want to go with me either! LOL!

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Keith April 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Laura,

I truly commend your efforts and your resolve to support sustainable agriculture. While I don’t agree with you on this issue, I am also supportive of these efforts, especially in the realm of opposing corporate farming and the takeover effort being waged by Monsanto in our food supply chain. Here are a couple of efforts that I collaborate in, just to lay some background.

https://sites.google.com/site/occupyyourgarden/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Gardening/351746341503313

I arrive at my positions both from a concern over our food supply and almost 20 years of experience in beef processing, including much R&D innovation since the early 70′s. The many technical methods now utilized to control pathogens in our food supply date back to these early days, and one of the first, and most widely used, is the injection of Ph altering materials to kill bacteria. From your stated background I can only assume you are familiar with the mechanics of attacking bacterial cell walls in this way.

Your methods of feeding your family are commendable, and I applaud you for that, but please realize that you represent a “niche” market that would be impossible to expand to the entirety of the food supply chain. We simply can’t feed millions in urban environments via farmer markets and small vendors without their expanding into the same corporate structure that we face today. The growth factor would guarantee it.

You desire to apply your experience to the entirety of a nation of 350 million people of varying incomes and abilities is naive, if not disingenuous. You take shots at people who actually are trying to improve the safety and security of the food supply because they don’t fit your impractical model. I can attest to the genuine concern of BPI, and it’s founder in particular, to accomplish the goal of safety and plenty for American consumers.

If your goals are realized, the processes of the industry will become moot, simply because we will not be able to afford most of the food that we now enjoy. Your pollyannaish view of how the industry should appear and interact with consumers doesn’t apply to the reality of feeding millions in this country, let alone the added burden of massive exports to less productive countries. I state this, not out of animosity, but, from the experience of someone who has run the numbers, as well as from the perspective of an activist for sustainable agriculture.

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Laura April 4, 2012 at 12:27 am

Keith, with all due respect, you are making some unfair representaions of what I said. I am quoting your remarks here, with my query or response following:
* “You desire to apply your experience to the entirety of a nation of 350 million people of varying incomes and abilities is naive, if not disingenuous.”
I did not say I wanted to apply my experience to everyone. In fact, I said that everyone has their own priorities.
* “You take shots at people who actually are trying to improve the safety and security of the food supply because they don’t fit your impractical model. ”
What “shots” did I take at people? I don’t believe I’ve even commented on the safety of LFTB.

*”If your goals are realized, the processes of the industry will become moot, simply because we will not be able to afford most of the food that we now enjoy.”
What I described was my own personal process. It is not something that I expect or even suggest that everyone adopt. So to which goals of mine are you referring? My goal to understand how the food on MY plate arrived there? My unstated goal that everyone have access to safe and healthy food choices? I am really not certain what you are responding to here and I am not being disingenous.

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Keith April 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

You, Jamie Oliver, ABC, and hundreds of other bloggers and new critics keep trying to dodge the responsibility you have in communicating to your subscribers and viewers. To claim that you haven’t presented your view to be taken as “fact” is just that, a dodge. The cumulative effect of all of this is that several businesses that provided an important part of our food distribution system, as well as safeguarding the end consumer, are going to cease to exist. It would be nice to back up to some starting point in this national conversation and sort the chaff from the grain so we could go forward with accurate information, but that isn’t how it works in this new medium.

The ball is rolling and you gave it your personal kick downhill, just as surely as did ABC and Oliver. What portion of the thousands of jobs being lost and food cost increase to a nation already reeling economically do you want to take credit for? 10 jobs? 25? 100? You can pick any number your conscience is comfortable with except 0.

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Matt April 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Blake- well said.

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Chris April 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

No, we want you to identify a single “lie” told by Bettina. Quote it, please, or stop calling her a liar.

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Mary Mary April 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Bill Marler made some good points but he missed the mark when he suggested BPI should not seek reparations. Bill makes his living suing manufacturers who poison the public with tainted food. Likewise we should be suing activist bloggers who deliberately poison the public with tainted misinformation. In each case that is the only way to make honest men and women of them. They have no integrity and no conscience. Just like housebreaking a puppy, journalists sometimes need help being fair and professional when they are peddling their “angry mommy koolaid”. Jon Stewart is a professional comedian and he gets a pass as an entertainer but Bettina and her counterparts take themselves very seriously indeed, so they need to take responsibility and be treated seriously.

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Mary, Mary – If you read that entire sentence, Mr. Marler also warned BPI

Do not threaten legal action against anyone. There are too many good lawyers (this one included) who would gladly take up their defense – pro bono.

Loosely translated “if you sue, you won’t be able to force a settlement by running them out of money so they can’t afford to pay their lawyer.”

I also suspect he has a strong feeling he could win such a case. Given the outcome of the “Oprah lawsuit” in the same area as the Texas BPI plant (the case was decided in her favor, by a jury from Texas cattle country), I can see why.

~EdT.

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J. Tester April 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Oh, we agree with Bill Marler about that, Ed. BPI should not threaten to sue, they should simply beef up (no pun intended) their legal team and immediately proceed with the law suits — skip any idle threats or posturing. Bring the suits before a Nebraska jury. Sure, there will be some lackluster pro-bono farting around on your behalf but we will soon learn if angry mommy bloggers have the adrenaline to follow through on the ugly smear campaign they started. If you’re thinking a series of half-hearted pro-bono part-time Perry Masons will be as effective as the crack team Oprah hired with her $millions$, well, let’s try that theory out in court. Anyway, if you all are so pure and pristine as you hint, well, then you’ve nothing to worry about in front of a judge, now , have you? It would be one more stage on which you could act out being martyrs, would it not? Step up, Ed & Bettina & cult, step up and accept responsibility for your smear campaign. Let Nebraskans decide your just deserves.

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FreeMarket April 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Lawsuits based on what? It’s not libel if it’s true.

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Lenée April 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm

“…..Sure, there will be some lackluster pro-bono farting around on your behalf…..(and)…… If you’re thinking a series of half-hearted pro-bono part-time Perry Masons will be as effective as the crack team Oprah hired with her $millions$….” You have no idea who Bill Marler is, do you, J. Tester? You clearly have no idea about anyone you’re criticizing here, according to your post…clearly.

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Perry April 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

We ain’t a-skeered o’ no huffin’ puffin’ ambulance chaser. Big, big difference between skewering big companies for big bucks and defending guilty slanderers from making fair restitution. A world of difference. Let’s party, ladies!

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Justin giskie April 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Calling lftb names that misrepresented it and created a food scare.

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Mary April 2, 2012 at 8:06 am

Actually a USDA scientist coined the phrase “pink slime”.

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Tracey April 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, a bitter ex-USDA inspector for the company. That makes such a reliable source…

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FreeMarket April 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Yeah, a multimillion dollar company sponsored website. That makes a reliable source.

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Matt April 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Walk through a beef plant and actually do some field-work. How’s that for a reliable source?

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Bri April 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I don’t know how many times this blog can post, repost, and draw attention to links representing ALL sides of the debate — including, quite prominently, the “beefisbeef” site and the interview done with the mother who tragically lost her child to food poisoning — before critics will realize that not only has Bettina pointed these sources out, she has actually READ them. In detail. Many times over. I think the issue is, people may be confused by the fact that individuals may reach two entirely different conclusions based on reading/viewing the same exact research. It’s part of the human condition, and we need not all agree. If anyone has new information to add to the debate so we can all continue to be informed, please post it. I know I’m interested in every link these days, as the debate continues. But please, everyone — on ALL sides — let’s stop with the empty accusations of lying or not being informed. I don’t think that’s the heart of the matter for any of us. We’re simply different people who view a situation differently.

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Erin April 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I agree not all of us are going to be in agreement on this issue…however, at least we will have a choice as a consumer to decide for ourselves and that is all I wanted out of this whole thing….no one wants to lose 3,000 American Jobs

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Laura April 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

That name came from a former employee of the FDA who didn’t believe this was a product fit for human consumption.
The name got people’s attention. It’s not what scared them. What scared them is the realization of what is happening to their food. The food scare was created by the process and the lack of disclosure, not by the name.

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skkb April 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm

USDA, not FDA. One regulates meat and the other all other food items.

As to disclosure, BPI voluntarily “exposed” themselves in Food Inc.

Processing aids such as release agents (think Pam) are not required to be on labels of food, not just meat products. If you wish to level the playing field, then ask both regulatory bodies, FDA and USDA to change the regulations. Check out the list of GRAS ingredients in title 21 of the CFR. Ammonium Hydroxide is one of many. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=184&showFR=1

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Laura April 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Thanks – my mistake on naming the worng agency!

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

UNTRUTHS
1. “Rather, they’re simply mad that a cheap filler — up to 15% — has been surreptitiously mixed into what they thought was 100% ground chuck or ground round.”
Inexpensive, yes because the packing houses have no use for it. It is the same material used in the process of producing ground beef, just not as much lean content; BPI’s process can extract the remaining lean meat.
2. “given how naturally pathogenic the raw material used to make the product — i.e., slaughterhouse scraps that are likely to be contaminated by cow excrement”.
Again, these are the EXACT same materials used to make ground beef AT the packing houses. The only difference the “pickers” on the belt line to ground beef production pull the pieces with less lean and put them in the combos or on the belt to be shipped to BPI. They have no more chance of becoming contaminated with cow excrement than do the trimmings used in non-LFTB foods.
These are from only one article. I promise, I will read more.

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Bri April 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

It was BPI’s own 2003 study that originally stated that the trimmings used in LFTB are more likely to be tainted with excrement and contain “higher microbial populations” than other cuts traditionally used in ground beef. If BPI itself makes that assertion (they may be trying to back away from it now, but they did originally make a formal finding to that effect in their own research), then how is it anyone else’s “misinformation” for reporting it?

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Perhaps other contaminants, but the likelihood of contamination by cow excrement is no higher than any other trimmings used in ground beef.
However, in all fairness, where would I find the study of which you speak? I shall add that to my list of “light” reading. :)

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Lenée April 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

http://documents.nytimes.com/meat-industry-and-government-records

Page 30–2003 study commissioned by company

“Boneless beef trim, the material used to produce LBT, consists of the irregularly shaped high-fat pieces of beef and typically includes most of the material from the outer surface of the carcass. While this material is a product of the processing of federally inspected and passed cattle, it does contain larger microbiological populations than most intact muscle cuts. Deep muscle tissue from healthy animals is presumed to be sterile, but microbiological contamination arising from processing may occur on the outer surfaces of animal carcasses. For this reason, it is reasonable to examine potential microbiological intervention strategies for the production of BLT.”

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Bri April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Thanks, Lenee! Glad someone else could produce the link while I was off tending to my little guys. :-)

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Lenée April 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm

You’re very welcome, Bri….:)

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Becky – given that the treatment with ammonium hydroxide is designed to kill the e.coli bacteria, specifically several really virulent strains that can cause harm to humans, and given that e.coli makes its home in the digestive system (and is found in feces), it makes sense that the cuts used as source to LFTB are more likely to be contaminated by cow excrement than the primary source cuts. Otherwise, they would be giving the ammonia treatment (or equivalent) to ALL ground beef, and not just LFTB.

~EdT.

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm

As a Quality Assurance employee at BPI, it was my responsibility to make sure EVERYTHING was clean and safe. This included multiple “rounds” every night to the processing facility from which the plant I worked received most of their material. It was my responsibility to make sure THEY were also utilizing their microbial prevention measures, as well. My trips included visits to every primal section in the facility. I know 1st hand where the material comes from; what cuts, etc. I also know what measures are taken, on both sides. I really am not trying to convince or persuade anyone, but rather, I am trying to enlighten. But as I said, all ground beef has the potential for e. Coli contamination. With the measures taken at the processing facility (irradiation, chemical sprays, etc.) BPI is just implementing the old safeguard…”CYA”. But, make no mistake, the processing plants DO “treat” everything that goes out the door.
I am also certainly not trying to be a know-it-all or a smarty pants, but I know what goes on there, where it comes from, and the precautions taken to make sure the product they ship is safe when it leaves their facilities.
As I stated on the previous blog, I left BPI on less than good terms. I have nothing to gain and absolutely no motive, but I do know what is right and true. I put in MANY long hours away from my own children to make sure ALL of you would get a high quality, SAFE product. My ethics, and those of the quality team still employed there, are above and beyond those you would typically find in the industry; driven by Eldon Roth himself. I hope this will all find a peaceful end and future rants, of any topic, are more carefully investigated before any beheadings take place.
All of this being said, I have just one more thing to add; the finished product looks a whole lot like, well, hamburger, just without all the fat.
:)

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Chris April 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Becky — you give two quotes, but don’t at all demonstrate them to be untrue. The first one you don’t even appear to be disputing. As to the second one, the quote doesn’t say that they are more likely than the trimmings used in non-lftb foods to be contaminated, just that they are likely to be. (Not everyone buys beef that is ground at the packing house, by the way.) So where are the lies?

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Becky April 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Yes, Chris, I did. She stated that it is a “cheap filler” when it is actually the same material used to make ground beef, i.e., beef trimmings from a packing house. Ground beef is just that, trimmings that are ground, whether they are from a packing house or a butcher shop. BPI just takes the less lean trimmings.
She also states “the raw material used to make the product — i.e., slaughterhouse scraps that are likely to be contaminated by cow excrement”. All beef produced in slaughter houses (not just ground beef, or beef sent to BPI) has a risk of being contaminated with cow excrement. To read her statment makes one assume the material has more of a chance of being contaminated, when in fact, it absolutely does not.

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EdT. April 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Becky – it is a fact that LFTB is made from beef product that is “cheaper” than the primary source cuts of beef. This is demonstrated by statements from the USDA and BPI to the effect that LFTB is a cost-effective product, saving on the order of 3 cents per beef patty which contains it. You may choose to debate whether it is technically “filler” or not, however – given that the USDA only permits ground beef offered for sale to consumers to contain a maximum of 15% LFTB, it certainly meets the definition of “filler” (also “extender”.)

~EdT.

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Keith April 2, 2012 at 3:39 am

There are many different cuts made from the animal in processing. Just as chuck roast is “cheaper” than porterhouse, some trims are “cheaper” than others. This is primarily due to the lack of demand for some over others. BPI uses a process that allows for the utilization of trims that weren’t normally included in ground beef before because of the tedious trimming required to separate lean from fat. The heat/centrifuge process makes that point moot. The bottom line is that the animal is better utilized in a safe manner. This should be a plus for the company, especially considering the rapid rise in retail prices of late.

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KF April 2, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Fillers, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are “…mostly plant substances, low in protein and high in carbohydrates such as cereals, roots, tubers and vegetables and some refined products such as starches and flours. Pure meat products are very low in carbohydrates. Hence the addition of carbohydrate-rich substances is not an “extension” of the protein mix, but some new components “fill-up” the product volume. Apart from their volume-filling capacity, some fillers, in particular starches and flours, are also used for their capability to absorb extensive quantities of water.”

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Nancy April 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

First of all, I would like the thank you for allowing me to post my comments. I would also like to state that I do live in the area where BPI’s home office is located. However, my livelihood is not directly affected by all of the negative, fear producing misinformation that has gone viral regarding BPI’s product, lean finely textured beef. With that said, all of us in this country have already been affected by this. BPI’s technological innovations in food production and safety are outstanding. They have received too many awards to list here. Other companies, I’m sure, are paying attention to this fiasco and will probably think twice before implementing and new & approved technologies in food production and safety. Why would they? The same slander that is spreading about BPI’s product could easily happen to their companies. We will never know how much damage this misleading information and half truths has done to food safety as a whole.
The central U.S. is the bread basket of our country and many of us still farm. If not, we are not too many generations removed. We understand all that is involved in beef production from birth (and even before) to your table. Every step between the farm and the store is strictly regulated. Many of the steps involved in getting meat to your table are not pretty. I know. I worked in a pork kill and cutting facility for 14 years. But, it is ALL closely watched and strictly regulated by the USDA. Food safety has and always will be the number one priority in every step.
When BPI started production here 3 decades ago there weren’t (and still aren’t) any “secrets” regarding their product. We fully understood what they were doing – just trying to capture as much of the lean meat from other cuts of meat we consume. Before they implemented this it was too time consuming to trim this small amount of beef away from the fat. But, it’s treated with ammonium hydroxide??? Big deal! So are thousands of food products, they have been for decades. This “little” procedure reduces the risk of E. Coli being transmitted into our food supply. We will never know how many lives have been saved.
There has never been any clandestine operations in the dead of night, government officials being paid under the table. No one has tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public. I’m sure if I asked any of the USDA inspectors I know what they thought of their portrayal in all of this they would be outraged.
I’ve read that you want BPI’s product content labeled (by the way, there are other companies that produce LFTB, too). I’m a little confused, though. What should the label read “Beef and more beef”? Sounds a little redundant to me. Or do you want the label to state the beef was treated with ammonium hydroxide? Then you’d better get busy. There are hundreds (thousands?) of products treated in the same manner.
When all of this is over, when the news agencies have moved on to their next “hot” topic, we here in my community will be left to lick our wounds and help the honest, hard working employees of BPI get on with their jobs of providing a safe, lean, nutritious beef for our country and world. We will survive this travesty of justice and I have no doubt that BPI will be standing proud!

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Mary April 2, 2012 at 8:35 am

I believe Cargill is the only other company that produces LFTB, from what I have found searching the Internet. The petition asked for the additive/filler/extender to not be used in school lunch programs due to the location from which it comes from on the animal, making it more likely to be found with contaminants. Before this though there was public outrage when people found out LFTB was being used in fast foods (McDonalds etc…). The issues with this product (LFTB) and the general population of the US goes back ten years or more. If there was great outrage when people found out about LFTB being in their McDonalds happy meals I can’t say as I am surprised that their outrage is tenfold to find out the supply just shifted from the happy meal to the school lunch tray. If BPI wants this problem to go away they need to find a better way of explaining their process I guess. Or maybe find a different outlet for it. I know if more people knew about how their food is produced across the board they would be very surprised on a grand scale. I for one would like to see the USDA require that ground beef be labeled as such 85% whole ground chuck and 15% filler/extender etc, for example.

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Nancy April 2, 2012 at 10:28 am

Mary,
Thank you for your response. I’ve seen so many nasty comments online I hesitated to even post anything! I don’t know why labeling the product would be a problem. I work in the foodservice business now and labels change all the time on products so I don’t think that would be a huge issue. I’m just afraid the damage has been done, though. I truly wish this could have been addressed in a more adult, responsible manor. Too bad this has gotten so crazy with so many lies out there. There’s a picture attached to a lot of articles of meat being squeezed out of press that is associated with BPI’s product. The picture is actually chicken for chicken nuggets! But, that’s the picture people associate with BPI’s product now. If I did not live in the midwest near BPI all the fear inducing catch phrases probably would have scared me, too. Everyone I know is just dumbfounded by all of this! I think the only thing BPI & the Roth’s are guilty of is not realizing how fast slander & lies can spread in our electronic world now. It is NOT filler, though. It is beef. It comes from the same cuts of meat that we eat. Luckily, cooler heads have prevailed here and our school system is still using ground beef with LFTB. And Iowa has one of the strictest school nutrition guidelines in the country. And you are so right about people not knowing how their food is produced. We definitely need watch dogs in every industry. But, I just hope no other company that has done nothing wrong has to go through this. Unfortunately, I know I’m wrong.

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Bill Marler April 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Bettina, you have it wrong “one of the nation’s leading food safety lawyers.” No, it it “the nation’s leading food safety lawyers.” And, since the food industry has paid my clients over $600,000,000 in the last 20 years, there is plenty to help Bettina deal with potential litigation.

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Lenée April 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Hahahaha!!! Bravo, Bill, BRAVO!!!!!

Lovin’ this………… :)

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Mary April 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

Rock on Bill Marler!

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Perry April 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

Well, then, let’s have us a big ‘ol butt-kickin’ litigation party, shall we? It’s only money, after all, and you all have tons of it, plenty enough to burn. BPI is already toast so they may as well sic their legal team on your asses for one grand exit. Who knows, justice may prevail and an angry mommy blogger or two will fund BPI’s rise from the ashes! Bill, you say BPI shouldn’t threaten to seek justice and reparations in court then you threaten to fight them if they do. We see who’s threatening and who’s not. All the more reason for BPI to blow through all the anti-industry smoke by suing a bunch of you. Gird up, girls, here come da judge!

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Tom Woolley April 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Lets you and I stop for a moment and digest this topic, shall we. People have mentioned corporate giants misleading us, are they referencing BPI, the family owned business with 1500-2000 employees and sub contractors, that produces only safe 100% USA raised beef? Or are you referring to the only competitor to BPI in the LFTB market, that itself supplies 7 million head of cattle and 9 BILLION lbs of beef to the US marketplace each year and imports millions of lbs of NON US beef from foreign countries, (from their own website) and exports thousands of American jobs? With only a story from a pretty boy, anchor wanna be, reporter from ABC, a trusted anchor person whom was, trusted, and a disgruntled questionable government worker who for some reason waited 10 years to speak out of his concerns, did he wait for his govt. pension to vest, do we get a story to digest, about what we eat. What could this commodities giant reap from this terrorist act by public media? Why is this commodities Giant only briefly mentioned in any articles and what do they stand to gain? Why is the use of ammonia hydroxide, a common food ingredient, utilized by BPI, questioned so extensively? Why is citric acid not subjected to the same scrutiny? Does the the use of, a “little citric acid” not make us question the Giants ability to compete in the market place they so strongly dominate? A splash of fruit juice, is a pathogen reduction strategy, really? If the lean beef BPI provides, is removed from the market place, the giants competition is ousted, ground beef prices go up, and more whole muscle cuts are used to supply ground beef demand, then more whole muscle and leaner trim imports are needed to supply this demand. BPI is not in the import commodities business.. Now whom is the corporate giant that is harmed in any way over this tactical maneuver? None! Only one benefits from this, from what I can see. The cattleman takes the loss of profit,(about 15$ per head)n the consumers will bear the cost to feed their families, the industry gets the black eye, BPI, looses 30+ years of hard work, thousands of workers loose jobs, their families loose their futures. So whats left is the questioning food suppliers ethics, our Dept.of Ag protocols, that are in place to advise the food suppliers on nutrition and food safety, and us, the consumer. How do you and I agree to expose this kind of monopoly play and get the facts before the people. How about we agree to research this for what it REALLY is? Nothing more than a tactical takeover of American consumers rights and the freedom of choice, not by family business, by shareholders demanding profit.

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lauren April 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

Could we please take a moment for an experiment and open two new tabs in our browser. Google: Beef Products Inc. in one of them, and in the other please Google: Beef Packers Inc. …notice they both have the initials BPI… scan down the pages and pages of recall recall recall salmonella, e Coli, etc. for Beef Packers Inc. which is not in any way affiliated with Beef Products Inc. and then, please tell me, what is going on really?

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Amy April 2, 2012 at 8:12 am

I’d leave the big “C” out of it. They will eat you for lunch. Didn’t they suspend BPI as a supplier of fat trim in 2007 for excessive Salmonella positives?

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lauren April 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

My point here is Bri posted a link to a salmonella recall of beef produced by Beef Packers Inc of California (which happens to have the same initials as Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota) – Beef Packers is Cargill. Does no one else here see that they aren’t interchangeable? You can’t just post links about one beef processor’s recalls and SAY it is BPI and allow everyone to think you mean Beef Products Inc. when really the link is about an entirely different company!

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Bri April 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

If you continued to read down the thread, that mistake was caught and I already apologized for the oversight.

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Keith April 2, 2012 at 12:36 am

Let me begin my comment with a couple of qualifiers. #1 There probably aren’t two people on earth much more politically opposed than myself and Eldon Roth. #2 I have almost 20 years of experience in beef processing, mostly in management and much of it in R&D.

There are many justifiable reasons to attack the beef processing industry. It is completely unfriendly to workers and is committed to profit at almost any cost. That said, I believe the attacks on the lean meat enhancer, LFTB, are without merit and not based in reason or research. In fact, they may achieve exactly the opposite results from that I believe this blog site is dedicated to.

Consumer demand for lean ground beef has presented the industry with a problem. Cattle, except the leanest grass fed varieties, simply have more fat within their muscle structure than what is required to test above 85% lean. This means that some alteration of the mix is required for those trendy 90/10 offerings in supermarkets. The industry must either be highly selective of what part of the animal is used in ground beef, (the front quarters are much fatter than the rear quarters), or some very lean meat must be added to the mix. Enter BPI with it’s process of heating beef trimmings to a point that allows the fat to be separated by centrifuge before it can be re-assimilated by the lean muscle tissue. Even with this process, it is difficult to achieve mixes much above 95%, but that does place a 90% lean burger within the realm of the practical with just an addition of 15% LFTB. This has been a success for anyone who enjoys an occasional burger, but wants to eliminate all possible saturated fats from their diet. In other words, most American consumers.

Others have mentioned that the process of introducing the product to a cloud of ammonia hydroxide gas is hardly new to the food industry, but it should also be pointed out that this is a natural substance that is manufactured by our own bodies as well. It simply raises the PH level of the environment for a brief period to kill pathogens, such as e-coli. I would greatly prefer a completely natural meat product, sans chemical enhancements, but I realize the danger of e-coli in “ALL” food, even that from my garden, and welcome this process in my ground meats. I would like to see this process extended to the entirety of ground meat production, not just the 15% represented by LFTB. Ground meat offers a unique challenge to the industry, as there is no “inside” or “outside” of the product as there is with steak and roast cuts. A source of pathogens can be spread through a large volume of product by the grinding process. In the real world, it is literally impossible to eliminate all sources of those pathogens, so I prefer my pathogens dead wherever possible. Knowledgeable consumers will cook ground meats to a “well done” condition, but we all have that uncle who poo poo’s caution in favor of a “rare” burger. Even crazy uncles have to be protected in today’s retail and legal climate. Thank crazy uncle Harry for ammonia gas treatment of LFTB. Your efforts to eliminate this process may hinder, or stop, it’s adaptation to ground meats in the future, greatly increasing the associated health risks and contributing substantially to the future cost increases in our entire food supply, not just ground beef.

In the end analysis, the elimination of this much vilified product will result in less lean offerings at much higher prices to consumers, including the taxpayer who ultimately foots the bill for school lunches and other government procurement. If there were any danger to consumers involved in this process I would be the first to line up with my protest sign outside the gates of BPI. I simply can’t find anything there to protest though. Even in the aforementioned area of employee relations BPI shines as an example for others to emulate. They are truly a “good neighbor” in the communities they work in, and the generosity of the family is well known in those communities.

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Amy April 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

I have six generations to your 20 years. Have been through the transition of state inspection to USDA inspection to the beloathed HACCP transition.

RE Lean: That’s why we import lean trim from Australia & NZ & pay ludicrous amounts for cows & bulls.

RE: Your remedial description of beef processing to obtain lean. You clearly do not have a full grasp on beef carcass breakdown. Considering how many alternatives there are to avoid your type of lean, it can be done.

RE: Ammonia. Your description would leave the reader with the impression that ammonia is the beat all end all to pathogen destruction. It is not. It is one of many tools. It isnt the only tool. Some use citric acid. Others use a variety of organic acids. The ammoniated process alone was only shown to reduce E.Coli by less than one log. It required the entire process (rapid pH adjustment, rapid chill down, & mechanical stressing) to reach non detectable levels.

Re: Price increase. Beef prices have been on the rise for some time now. They will likely raise slightly in the short term of the fall out as the industry adjusts, but all increases will not be due to this product being left on the table. And another BPI employee stated it only gave consumers a $0.20 to $0.25 (that’s two dimes or a quarter!) price advantage. Which is it? Exorbitant prices or a quarter?

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Keith April 4, 2012 at 2:11 am

The fact remains that we can not breed and feed the animal for marbling in the muscle cuts and yield ground product at higher lean content than the source primals, expecting efficiency and cost containment, without interjecting a lean modifier. That’s basic math and hardly requires “generations” of experience or any degree. If you are satisfied with importing that modifier without control of processes then what’s the “beef” with BPI, which is surely held to higher standards than any uninspected facility in Australia or New Zealand? I would hope we don’t outsource these jobs as a response to a non issue and lose a considerable amount of control as a result.

While extensive testing of BPI product has been referenced, I see no comparative testing of other methods that you seem to prefer. Citric acid is not without problems and it can’t be introduced in a gaseous state. The “process” utilized by BPI resulted in a defect free test, which is why it is a “process”. Why would you choose to isolate a single stage to vilify as ineffective when it has not been claimed to be the “end all” answer to contamination in isolation?

There simply is no upside to rendering perfectly usable lean meat while importing an equal weight of identical lean meat from questionable sources that we don’t control or inspect. That is just a disaster waiting to happen. It may not be applicable, but I keep thinking of anti freeze “sweetened” baby formula and pet food.

The inefficiency of such alternatives, and the simple waste of rendering lean protein, can not lend themselves to price efficiency for the consumer. Using the most lean protein from the animal is only common sense economics to contain cost while supplying a ground product that is acceptable to a demanding consumer.

I have been out of the industry for decades, and much has changed, to be certain. The one thing that doesn’t change with time is the basic math of yield computation and economics of scale. Both support the BPI process to the benefit of the average consumer, which isn’t the niche market of upscale food elitists who are attempting to force their unattainable goals on the food supply of America.

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Amy April 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

Snide remarks aside….
We’ve imported leans from Australia & NZ for quite some time already. This is not news. I see no point in you degrading the inspection system of Australia (arguably better than our own) & NZ. Those plants are inspected to a high degree & approved through USDA as suppliers.

I personally don’t prefer any method and am confused on why you chose those words. What I would have preferred is that my suppliers of grind would have let me know this was added in the first place, as I would not have #1 purchased it in any capacity or #2 would not have paid premiums for it (which I was charged). Label it. Issue resolved.

I have made lean grinds for decades on my own without such difficulties and at much lower rates than what I was charged for the pre-blended grinds that contained LFTB.

With that said, labeling resolves all of those issues for me. I can stay away from it, pay appropriately for what I want, and you can continue to sell your product to those that accept it.

On a sidenote: The LFTB did not benefit the poor average consumer looking to purchase meat at lowest costs. The LFTB made leaner blends easier & more profitable & were sold at higher costs (at retail) that were actually feeding those “food elitists” you seem to have such contempt for.

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EdT. April 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

When I was a child, one of my favorite foods was a sandwich made with steak tartare. That’s right – not RARE ground beef, but RAW ground beef. It’s really quite tasty, with a bit of salt and pepper on it.

There were some restrictions, though – it couldn’t be sold if the outside temperature was too high, and the beef HAD to be freshly ground – no mass-produced patties here.

Those were the days (and not that long ago)… Unfortunately, the reality of agri-business practices dictate that no *sane* human would knowingly consume raw ground beef, unless the provenance was verified (grass-fed, fresh ground from prime cut, served and consumed at a cold temperature.) In my case, my own immune system would probably not be able to handle the risk.

~EdT.

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Keith April 4, 2012 at 2:19 am

The beef processing industry has innovated far beyond it’s state that you pine for when you enjoyed your tartar. Tartar from the fillet was always one of my favorites as well, and I am more confident of the safety of such an indulgence now (providing that I did my own grinding) than I should have been then.

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Tom Woolley April 2, 2012 at 6:58 am

Amy your comments about chicken are not relevant in an that , first the term mechanically separated means that the carcass frames, or bone structures left over, after as much of the lean was removed by hand as possible. Then the frames are processed through a (depending on manufacturer) deboning- desinewing, machines, thus the extruded stream in the photos that you so love to wave around. No BPI does not intentionally process trim with bones included. However desinewing is a part of the process for removal of well, sinews, and any tiny bone sliver that may or may not be there, and sizing. That is a BPI product quality standard that is years ahead of the protein industry. Right this very minute I am reading the back of a package of Deli chicken meat. It is beautiful, the package is pristene, the contents are displayed in such a manner as to think, a person sliced this breast ever so carefully as to make each piece just perfect for presentation for , well a queen. But I opened it spread out all the ribbons of comingeled, perfectly round sheets, just like the little bit o stuff, peeking from under the bread, you show in your own beautiful tray presentation. I love this stuff, its yummy, I like it on a tortilla with some sharp cheddar, some New Mex green chili, and a zap in the microwave, I also like a good juicy beef patty, the same way. My point is that the chicken is labeled chicken breast, I believe that, including all the tissues surrounding the breast including some skin, emusified in some fashion and extruded into a mold or loaf, box in the photo, probably for storage or shipping purposes, along with all the STUFF on the label. Only the chicken and salt is natural mind you. Then popped in mamma’s oven for an hour or so ( I was trying my hand at a little humor, sorry) then hand carved and perfectly placed in the trays. Except Mamma’s oven probably holds 30-40 thousand pounds of the loaves and the placement in trays is all by machine. No hands included. BPI, LFTB, is beef, sold wholesale to blenders, that ,well blend. Then form the patty and freeze the patties etc. I for one, a fairly educated consumer in the protein world would like for you, and the Queen bee of this tray site to explain to me why you have publicly dissected BPI and their quality product, and deliberately run away from the only competition in the LFTB business.

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Amy April 2, 2012 at 8:47 am

That I would so love to wave around? That toothpaste picture doesnt even look like MSC. Careful who you judge. And it is completely relevant. Employees of BPI continuously throw out the chicken argument as was clearly done here….and that is irrelevant because MSC or MST or MSP is included as an ingredient on the label. LFTB is not.

I am well aware that blenders purchase BPI’s product…and they blended…without telling us what is blended in…and that sir, is the real problem.

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EdT. April 2, 2012 at 7:25 am

You know… in a way, I feel Eldon Roth’s (and the communities where BPI operates) pain. I, too, work in an industry that has been (still is) the target of opponents (including some fairly high up in government.) Some of this opposition was based on mis-information: in other cases, the industry did in fact screw up; while in others, they simply did a very poor job of communicating.

One of the challenges of my job (information security – not PR) is to explain things to people in a way that they understand. Not talking down to them, nor talking over their head. The results of my work can have real safety consequences, so it is not something I can take lightly. It is also a very difficult task, as the level of understanding of my target audience is very diverse.

I can understand BPI’s response: circle the wagons, and try to figure out what the hell went wrong, and how to plug the leaks in their business – fast – before the whole things goes up in a puff of ammonium hydroxide. What I don’t understand (though, in a twisted way, it makes sense) are their decisions to bring out their puppets for a dance recital/”press conference”, and then to go into “default deny” mode: this sounds more like the reaction of a political campaign in serious trouble (or a company caught with their pants down, figuratively speaking.) As a resident of the Gulf Coast, I have seen others try this same tack – is there anybody reading this who things the strategy has worked for BP?

Once the dust settles, I suspect I will continue to avoid ground beef products containing LFTB: that is my choice, and I have reasons, both health and culinary, for this decision. On the other hand, there are people who would gladly eat ground beef with LFTB mixed in. That is their choice. The best thing that BPI could do is to ensure that ground beef and deli meat products containing LFTB include this fact on the label (in fact, it could end up helping their brand – before the “pink slime” issue came up, many folks had no idea who BPI was or what they did.)

~EdT.

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Brad Borchers April 2, 2012 at 8:17 am

Jusy weighing on this topic as it has become a mine field of mis-information. I’m going to try and break this down very simple, trying not to lose anyone. When beef comes into any packing plant, it is cut up by section according to prime cuts. Each cut is then split up unto certain sizes and during each step, fat is trimmed away. On every piece of fat is good quaility beef and is still very edible. This trimming are heated to REMOVE the fat, making it lean and even better for you. Then it is treated with a “puff” of amonium gas. NO more than what is produced naturally in nature and our own bodies. Then the beef is then frozen and re-introduced back into itself. For the life of me, I cannot figure out where is the problem that everyone is having. A few mis-informed people are spreading made up truths and the uneducated are believing them just because they are on TV. Get the facts before spreading rumors. And please call the product by its offical name. Lean Finely Texture Beef (LFTB).

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sarah April 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

i’m not going to be negative, i’m just going to say this…i’ve seen firsthand (not being an employee, just a schmoe from the community) how the beef is processed and sent out…the picture of the ‘pink slime’ is not accurate, it’s not anywhere to be found in the BPI plant…and i followed the whole line…long before this ruckus started….it’s beef, plain and simple…it’s not a filler or additive…okay, mark it as mechanically separated beef, whatever, but don’t sit there and slam it because there is no reason to…it’s just as good as the other beef, it actually has less ammonium hydroxide than the bun and the condiments and cheese you eat with your ‘pink slime free’ burger at McD’s or where ever…that’s what it comes down to, the ammonium hydroxide…it’s not soaked in it, it’s barely misted with it…barely misted with something that will keep us from getting sick..please, research 100 percent before slamming something, a perfectly safe product…BPI was not hiding this from anyone, they’ve always offered full tours of the plant and never hid anything from anyone..we all knew they were there, separating beef from fat so as not to waste what other companies were just tossing away….millions of dollars saved by making sure all the beef was used…i thought we were a country who frowned upon waste, and now we are saying we’d rather have millions of dollars worth of beef trashed than save it….

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Greg April 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I do not understand the hype. The USA teaches children in school that my people, the Native Americans, are admirable in that they use all of the animal that they kill, out of respect to the life that has been ended. Then this country has the nerve to turn around and demand that all the cuts of meat from preparing their $25 rib-eye steak they gorged themselves on the night before need to be thrown out to rot. When there is a cheap, effective, and safe way to ensure that as much of the animal as possible is used, while simultaneously ensuring the affordability of meat to school districts, fast food places, etc. Do you honestly believe that a fast food place can afford to give away 1/3 premium ground beef burgers for 99 cents? No way. Do you believe that you can feed your kid a premium Angus or Herford beef burger, a roll, corn, salad, fruit, and milk for 97 cents (national average cost of an individual school lunch)? If so you are crazy, and more so even than me for posting this on a website and inviting biased and bashing replies to what should just be common sense.

Oh, and this huge smear campaign is costing people jobs, including my own. Appreciate that. Don’t know how I am going to be able to afford the resulting changes to my kids school lunch menu with no income at the moment.

“Beef Products’ plants in Iowa and Kansas each produced about 350,000 pounds of lean, finely textured beef per day, while the one in Texas produced about 200,000 pounds a day. The shutdown has affected 650 jobs, the company said.”
-ABC News

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Tracey April 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Here, here! Absolutely agree with you, Greg!

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Lenée April 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Greg–How can you say “respect for the life that has been ended” when that life spent all its days in a factory farm environment, was fed an unnatural diet, hormones and antibiotics, and denied full access to, throughout its life, nature, grass, pastures? The Native American philosophy comes from a life of living off the land, hunting animals who had lived their whole lives the way they’re supposed to be lived, and because they lived naturally, no processes that we speak of here were necessary to obtain safe meat. As a Native American, I would think you would also have a problem with these animals being treated poorly and without respect when they are mass produced. I understand we all need to work and make a living, and I’m sorry to hear your job may be affected. I, too, was laid off last year and have still not fully recovered. But please, if you want to say that Americans are being disrespectful of these lives lost, based on Native American philosophy, because some don’t want to consume LFTB, please understand that the whole process of factory farmed meats and the slaughtering process is disrespectful, according to Native American philosophy.

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Keith April 10, 2012 at 12:30 am

Lenee,

Even as a supporter of BPI and the LFTB process, I can also find myself in agreement with much of what you say. That, however, has no bearing upon BPI, or it’s processes. The sources you choose for your beef purchases are very unlikely to have any connection to this issue. Labeling will not change your situation because your source provides that labeling already to justify it’s pricing structure and to distinguish itself as targeting the niche market you represent. Those sources make no pretense that they can provide for the demand for beef for the mass market, and they wouldn’t even if they could.

For many American families ground beef is the only beef they can afford and BPI is making that safer and more economical for them. I see many posts on this, and other, board(s) stating that the poster purchases roast cuts and has them ground to order. This also in a denial of the purchasing ability of a great portion (majority?) of consumers. We shouldn’t use this issue as a vehicle for our complaints (and I also have many) and accusations for the entire food industry. In the context of the beef industry, as it exists, BPI provides a beneficial service to consumers that is proven both effective and safe.

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Mindy Johnson, Vermont April 2, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Wickedly clever spin in your title, Bettina. You smugly opine the truth will “set BPI free” when, in reality the TRUTH might have prevented BPI being unfairly lynched in the first place. Would you recognize truth? I mean, it’s been so long.

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EdT. April 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Mindy – you are absolutely correct. Had BPI (and, in fact, the entire beef processing industry) been forthcoming and TOLD US about LFTB being used in ground beef products, then BPI (and other companies – see AFA’s bankruptcy filing today) wouldn’t have seen their reputations (and their businesses) hammered.

Back during the early episodes (Epi 1, I think) of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (Season 2, in LA), Bettina criticized JO for his “demonstration” on “how ‘pink slime’ was made”. She also made a statement which was actually quite prescient, to the effect that “to the best of her knowledge, ‘pink slime’ wasn’t present in ground beef provided to public schools by the USDA, and asking anyone who knew differently to let her know.” (I am paraphrasing, but I think I caught the spirit of her statement.) Her petition at change.org, which IMO played a not insignificant role in this blowing up in BPI’s face, resulted from a story in “The Daily” (a Rupert Murdoch property, IIRC) that “let her know”.

People (over 250,000 of them) saw the petition, did some reading/teevee watching/other research on their own, and proceeded to go all Angry Villager on BPI, the beef industry, and the USDA for keeping them in the dark. The numbers surprised Bettina (and, I suspect, the Powers That Be at USDA, BPI, and the food retailers), and the resulting publicity (most all of it negative) hit BPI and similar companies like a tsunami.

The response that BPI’s PR “expert” cooked up (basically “shoot the messenger, blame the public, and tell them to shut up and eat their burgers like good little mushrooms”), along with the quasi-legal threats and the dancing-puppet show featuring the elected Governors of several states, just threw a mixture of gasoline and liquid oxygen on the fire. This type of response is almost NEVER a good idea: any PR “expert” who suggests it should not be hired.

One thing that the “Powers that Be” in both business and government should learn from grassroots efforts like the Tea Party, OWS, the “Arab Spring”, the “Pink Slime Petition”, etc. is that, in the days where communication is virtually instantaneous, the “old ways” of doing business, especially where they involve not being forthcoming and honest with your public, are more likely than not going to result in an EPIC FAIL. This isn’t a “right” or “left” thing, it’s an “I am tired of being treated like I don’t matter, and I AM GOING TO FREAKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT” thing, blasting across traditional political/”culture war” boundaries.

~EdT.

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Julia April 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Some of us have a problem with this beef before it ever gets to this process. We don’t need a lot of beef but what we do purchase is grass fed and grass finished from a source of my choosing. I get to choose what I consider real food for my family. Real food for us is not gmo grain fed beef.
This nastiness is so unfortunate. I am hearing people say we just want to have all the facts and let us decide. I teach my kids to be informed before they make decisions and that it’s never safe to assume.

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Trixie April 8, 2012 at 4:29 am

In a post from April 01, 2012 as stated:

“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.)”

Within another post from April 01, 2012 as stated:

“In point of fact, the day after that show aired, I publicly criticized Mr. Oliver on the grounds that dumping household ammonia on beef was an unfair depiction of this product. And when NPR recently tried to imply that I started this campaign because I, too, linked the ammonium hydroxide with household “cleaning agents,” I demanded — and received – an on-air retraction the next day.”

From these statements, I have what I believe to be a valid question. If you praise Beef Products, Inc. for for leading the industry with its advanced E. coli testing, and you “publicly criticized Mr. Oliver on the grounds that dumping household ammonia on beef was an unfair depiction of this product”,
why is it that you paraphrase “commonly known as “pink slime””?
I know you have only limited control of what is written in this forum, but it would be appreciated, given the above, when you mention or are referencing LFTB made by Beef Products, Inc., it be called just that LFTB, or Lean Finely Textured Beef, which is what it is. The term PS, although many not in the industry refer to it as such, it is a phrase that should not coexist with the company Beef Products, Inc., as it is hard enough to disassociate yourself from that phrase as it is, and it is only a constant visual reminder of the concoction made by Jaimie Oliver.

In addition, I have seen mentioned on this forum BFMT, Boneless Fatty Meat Trimmings. This is a completely different product than LFTB, which those who are not in the industry may think are one in the same. It would be appreciated if this comparison would be clarified, and clearly stated that they are not one in the same.

Furthermore, within your forum, others have questioned where you get your knowledge of the product and process that Beef Products, Inc. produces, and whether or not you have actually seen the process at Beef Products, Inc., since correct me if I am wrong, but I believe I am correct in stating that although there do exist videos, explaining the process, and showing the extensive E-Coli testing, there are no videos that are available actually showing the process that BEEF PRODUCTS, INC. uses. I capitalize the companies name, because I believe there is in existence a video of another company and there process, but there are only 2 producers of this product, and it is not by either of them.

With this it would be appreciated if you clearly state the source of your knowledge, and in doing such, in the case of a video, that you clarify as to what company produced the video, and which company supplied you with the video. If it is from a scientist, or other professional in the industry, or field, it would be appreciated if you clearly state the name, company, industry, and/or University or Agency in which they work, the field of industry.

In closing, it would be more than appreciated if your reply to this post addresses all of the above referenced issues.

Again, my apologies in advance if your knowledge of the product, process and the industry are greater than that of mine, as I have only been in the industry for a little over 25 years.

My appreciation in advance, and I look forward to reading your response.

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

Bettina and Forum Writers

The Food, Inc. video in which you viewed, again contained misrepresentations and errors by the commentary.

I posted on this site the latest version of that video which points out the areas which were incorrect, as well as properly identifying them.
One case being a port that showed fluid splashing against it. In the first video it was cited as being ammonium hydroxide, while in fact it is water which is used to clean the air in the plant which is brought into a room behind a positive pressure door keeping the aircraft hasn’t been cleaned yet out, and with a big machine the air is washed. You may ask why would you wash the air, seems a bit over the top?
Safety and quality are of the utmost priority at Beef Products, Inc. existing in the world are “airborne pathogens”. Beef Producrs, Inc. washes the air as to further remove any pathogens that may come in contact with the product. That being said, you can see to the extent in which ensuring quality and safety is at the heart of Beef Products, Inc. and it’s owners, as this level of commitment to producing a quality product. I’m just wondering if any other company which provides beef to the consumers make such a dedicated grand effort to ensure the safety of their product. Please watch the new video where you will also see bright shiny stainless steel equipment polished to #4 finish or better, this too to ensure no pathogens get caught in any nooks or crannies of the equipment in which the product is processed.

I have also posted here a video by Beef Product, Inc. that is called Innovations and Safety, further showing the extent and devotion and dedication in ensuring a safe, quality product.

Bettina, I am sure you as well will find this rewarding, beneficial, and educational time well spent in watching.

I will repost both videos right here to remove having to search Tia site for the videos.

Food Inc. Was Wrong on Portraying Lean Beef
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl52y4uhTJY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Innovations in Food Safety
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AnPKEOjWyo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Please take the time to watch both videos.

Trixie

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

Here is yet another video with regard to Beef Products, Inc. and their commitment to excellence, by USDA

BPI (Beef Products, Inc.) Test History

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2-OuXtiCx0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

BPI Responds to USDA Decision on Lean Beef Trimmings in Schools

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MpBojlQNdw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am
Trixie April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

BPI Responds to USDA Decision on Lean Beef Trimmings in Schools

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5IsOID8rdE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Trixie April 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm
Bettina Elias Siegel April 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Trixie: In the last few days you have flooded TLT not with comments but with link after link after link to various pro-LFTB videos and websites. I have erred on the side of inclusion and allowed every one of these in. However, at a certain point this sort of “commenting” becomes a de facto hijacking of my blog. I will not accept any more posts of this sort. If you wish to set up your own website to house all of these links and then post a single link to that clearinghouse here, I’d be happy to accept it.

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Dear Bettina:

My sincere apologies, as it was not my intention to flood your site.
I respect your request, and in the future will keep my comments direct to the issue, taking extra care as to the content of which I post.

Trixie

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Trixie April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Some might ask why now, why just links and not direct comments?

I decided for a change, at least for today, instead of voicing my opinion, what’s going through my head, I would post what is now in the news, media, schools, and more.

Please take the time to watch or read, as they are a very educational outlook as to what other’s are saying on this subject.

Thanks!

Trixie

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