BPI Makes Accusation of Libel in WSJ Ad, Suspends Some Operations – My Response

by Bettina Elias Siegel on March 26, 2012

On Friday, Beef Products Inc., the manufacturer of Lean Beef Trimmings (commonly referred to as “pink slime”) took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal to address its growing public relations crisis. I didn’t see the text of the advertisement until today.  (Here is a photo of it, which you can read by using the zoom feature on your browser.)

As you will see, the ad is divided into two parts.  To the left is a reprint of the article in Food Safety News by Nancy Donley, the food safety advocate who tragically lost a child to E. coli and who claims that opponents of lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) are standing in the way of modern food safety measures.  I addressed Ms. Donley’s argument the same day her piece in Food Safety News appeared.  You can read my open letter to her (to which she has not yet responded) here.

On the right side of the Wall Street Journal ad is a letter from Eldon Roth, founder of BPI, entitled “‘Pink Slime’ Libel To Cost This Country Jobs.”  He writes:

Before last summer we could not have imagined the personal, professional, financial and spiritual impact of the campaign of lies and deceit that have been waged against our company and the lean beef we produce. But over the last several weeks, that campaign has been joined by entertainment media, tabloid journalists, so-called national news — and all to what end? The clear goal expressed by the campaign organizer — put BPI out of business.

It is simply amazing how this mis-information campaign can take a company and product that has long been recognized for its quality and safety and turn the public perception so negative that it now may result in the loss of over 3,000 jobs . . . .

This ad was followed by an announcement today that BPI is temporarily suspending operations at three of its four plants.  According to the Associated Press, “About 200 employees at each of the three plants will get full salary and benefits for 60 days during the suspension. . . .”

I do not know if Mr. Roth refers to me when he speaks of “the campaign organizer” but, assuming that he does, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to his accusations, as well as the news of plant suspensions and potential job losses.

When I started my Change.org petition on March 6th, I had one simple, clearly defined goal:  to ask USDA to revisit its practice of providing school districts with ground beef containing LFTB.  The USDA/schools petition went viral, garnering almost a quarter of a million signatures in a little over a week (and now exceeding that target).  USDA responded to the outpouring of concern by offering schools the option of buying beef without this filler.   And that might have been the end of this story.

But clearly something else arose out of my petition and the media coverage associated with it.  Consumers learned — many for the first time — that USDA allows LFTB to be mixed into the nation’s ground beef supply, up to 15%, without any labeling to disclose that fact.  Reportedly, 70% of beef in this country now contains LFTB.

And as it turns out, consumers are quite unhappy about this fact.

Some people are concerned about food safety, given the pathogenic nature of the raw material used by BPI to make the product.   Its safety record, though now admirable, was somewhat more troubling between 2005 and 2009 when E. coli and salmonella were repeatedly found in its product, as reported by the New York Times.   Some consumers – rightly or wrongly — worry about the use of ammonium hydroxide in the processing of their food.  Some people consider the inclusion of an unlabeled filler to be a form of economic adulteration, in that their package labeled 100% ground beef might only be  85% ground chuck or ground round and the rest a gelatinous meat filler.  And others claim there are aesthetic differences between beef with LFTB and pure ground beef.

Whether any or all of these concerns are valid is almost beside the point.  Our free market is founded on informed consumer choice, but in this case USDA deprived consumers of the ability to make that choice when it made the controversial decision to treat LFTB as “ground beef,” no different from ground chuck or ground round.

Now that the truth about LFTB is coming to light, BPI’s business may be suffering.  But this consumer reaction should not come as much of a surprise to the company;  why else did BPI, according to the Times, lobby USDA back in 2001 to exempt their product from labeling?

As I said in an interview on the very first day of my USDA/schools campaign, the use of LFTB in ground beef is “one of those practices that can thrive only in obscurity.”   Now exposed under intense media scrutiny, BPI is discovering that this is indeed the case.

Though accused of waging a campaign of lies, libel and deceit, I have taken care in every step of this campaign to source my facts (obviously I am limited to publicly available information about LFTB) and to avoid fear-mongering.  Indeed, even at the risk of alienating NPR and the reporter who interviewed me there, I immediately demanded a retraction – one which was read on the air the next day — when I felt the reporter had portrayed me as someone who is stoking unfounded fears about ammonium hydroxide by comparing it to a household “cleaning agent.”

Finally, I’d like to address the issue of potential job losses.  The real human cost arising out of this controversy troubles me deeply.  Mr. Roth’s letter to the contrary, it has never been my intention, stated or implicit, to “put BPI out of business.”  Rather, it is my belief that, like any other company, BPI should be free to sell its product so long as it continues to do so in a safe — and transparent — manner.

The future of LFTB will and should be determined by well informed consumers.  If my petition contributed in any small way to a national conversation about this product, that is only to the good.

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Bettina Elias Siegel

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

ben March 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I’m pretty sure that BPI is a victim of the USDA, as we citizens are.

The reason being is that the USDA probably gave BPI the impression that its product would be concealed from the citizens via the power of the government and labeling any packages or informing the consumer about their product was unnecessary.

But in the end, BPI should have been loyal to the consumer and not the federal government.

It is unfortunate that people are going to be laid off at BPI, but the company only has itself to blame for not being forth coming with us.

In the end BPI is suffering what other companies have suffered when they had tried to pull the wool over our eyes. Most assuredly, BPI has the honor of being an American Company with a product that isn’t profitable because it ultimately didn’t appeal to the American Consumer or was poorly marketed by the company.

For the most part, there seems to be many people with an appetite for their pink slime. All BPI has to do is require that its product be identified on packages of meats so that the people will have the right to choose.

Heck, I’m pretty sure that if there were rolls and packages of on the meat counter that indicated 100% pink slime and it was half price of regular ground chuck, it would be flying off the shelves.

In any case, if BPI wants to sue somebody, then it should be the USDA for giving them a false sense of security.

In the end, it is always hoped that the American people win over secrecy and greed and fraud that occurs in big business and in government.

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Brad March 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Qua? I mean I get your BPI taking personal responsibility, but why should they blame the USDA for giving them what they asked for? Or be allowed to sue the USDA?

BPI should have no one to sue/blame but themselves.

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sara March 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Bettina,

Thank you. As a parent, Mom, and frankly a regular plain ol citizen of the USA, I am truly sad that the BPI and their PR FIRM have stooped so low as to play the JOBS card. Perhaps if the industry wanted to create more jobs, and this company in particular, they would immediately find ways to grow meat without additives, hormones, antibiotics, souped up and engineered with lord only knows. Heck, what did the full page ad and PR firm make off of this? Seems you could almost start an organic farm for that investment?

Perhaps they would become a part of creating food we can all not have to ask, How do I pronounce the ingredient, what is in this meat and what are the long term effect of what you are doing to the meat. Oh and if it has NO HARMFUL effects, then label it so I can choose.

Good for you! You have educated and made people believe they have a voice. Now PR firm and LOBBYISTS, Politicians and Corporate America, I think it is time to LISTEN. Thank you again to Costco, HEB, Safeway and now Krogers. You listened. Maybe you can hire the 200 laid off employees that were exposed to lord knows what while working at the company that produced SLIME. Maybe the issue has been exposed. Maybe consumers will support companies that are TRANSPARENT, producers that are honest and thus, those companies will be hiring and not have to “let their employees go”. Maybe the Company, PR Firm, paid scientists,politicians and Lobbyists can see that they are the REASON these people are now unemployed.

PR Firms for Big Business, Lobbyists and Politicians, as I went to the farmers market this weekend and had coffee with a Community Banker, you may now add me to the long growing collaborative of not so happy people. Jobs in the USA? Easy, get off the backs of the local businesses that want to do the right thing for their communities. Do not go after ONE MOM that decided to expose a possible health threat for kids in school, the kids with NO VOICE that you are selling this to! Heck, Costco said no way before this campaign! Funny you did not tell that side of the story?

As for Bettina Siegel, she started a petition that if you have not figured out millions of folks read and passed along to their contacts. She started what is nothing more than a process called consumer education. Best fill your coffers for lots more full page ads! Consumers are finally using their voices with their dollars.

Finally, God Bless you Bettina!

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AJF March 29, 2012 at 7:48 am

Just out of curiosity, Sara, what is the health threat posed by LFTB?

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Tracey March 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

So, besides the jobs, how do you propose we make up for the millions of pounds of beef that will be lost because of this misinformation? Slaughter more cows? That’s a horrible solution.

BPI came up with a safe way to be able to use more of the cow with less waste, and a few mudslingers spreading libel are trying to shut them down. As human beings, if we are going to be using other life forms as food sources, we should be trying to use everything we can and not slaughter more than we have to.

Oh, and that ammonia thing you are all freaking out about? Do you know how many foods you probably eat on a daily basis that have a higher ammonia content than the LFTB? Unless you bake all of your own breads, you’re eating ammonia. If you eat cheese, there’s a good chance you’re ingesting ammonia. Oh, and chocolate? That, too. And, guess what. Your body produces ammonia and needs it to live. The amount used in the meat is minute. Unless you’re drinking Windex on the side, it’s not going to hurt you one bit.

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sara April 2, 2012 at 11:03 am

pretty sure we all want it labeled where ver it is used so we can just make a personal choice. Just like pharma must list “possible side effects”.

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Christine April 2, 2012 at 11:55 am

How would you label? Its beef plain and simple. 100% beef.

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Pilar March 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Well said Bettina.

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Michele Hays @QuipsTravails March 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

This was the same tactic used when the IWG asked food marketers to stop marketing to children: http://energycommerce.house.gov/News/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=9007

It is criminal that these factory workers will lose their jobs, as they had nothing to do with the company’s decision to create a cheap filler to add to ground beef without notifying anyone. The fact that the public is outraged now that it’s been brought to their attention has nothing to do with anything.

I hope they can sleep at night.

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Mary March 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

How can a low temperature rendered by-product (LFTB) be meat?

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Deb March 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

Wow talk about not knowing the facts!!! BPI doesn’t add ANY thing to ground Beef!!! They make the FTLB that OTHER companies buy from them. Other companies add the FTLB to THEIR product to sell to consumers! If any labeling was required by our government BPI would have been happy to comply because they stand behind their product, The workers are being laid off as a DIRECT result of the media smear campaign! Contrary to belief BPI is a small family owned company the doesn’t have the resources to keep everyone employed when their corperate customers run scared from the “Blog Bullies”!

LFTB has been around for over 20 years so consumer “outrage” now is ridiculous! If you don’t like LFTB, don’t eat it BUT don’t use social media scare tactics & misinformation to prove your point.

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Scott March 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I don’t want to eat it, but really, it’s so widespread I don’t know what it is in.

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Mrs. Q March 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

You are handling this with your usual grace, compassion, and thoughtfulness. And being a lawyer doesn’t hurt either! :)

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Brad March 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm

As usual, a thoughtful post Bettina. Keep up the good work and don’t let yourself be intimidated by them.

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Crunchy Con Mommy March 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I just blogged about the BPI thing, and I am happy to see how reasonable you are about this whole thing. I wish more people would advocate for transparency and labelling without also advocating to get rid of “pink slime” altogether. After researching it quite a bit, I’m totally fine with eating it myself, but I’m also okay with it being labelled as finely textured lean beef. Anyway, thanks for your seemingly reasonably approach.

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Lenee March 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm

THANK YOU for understanding the stance taken by so many people in this community, unlike so many others who claim lies are being told, and that we have no idea what we’re talking about. Thank you, Crunchy Con Mommy. It’s all about choice and being informed. :)

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DH March 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm

So Bettina you claim “I have taken care in every step of this campaign to source my fact”
Here is a list your your False and Mis-leading statements you have personally made in just your opening paragraph on your change.org petition. Since you said you wish to “avoid fear-mongering” maybe you would like to correct your inaccurate and misleading statements so people reading what you write will have the same opportunity to make a decision based on facts and not someones one sided story.

“”Pink slime” is the term used for a mixture of beef scraps and connective tissue (formerly used only for pet food and rendering) that is treated with ammonia hydroxide to remove pathogens like salmonella and E coli. These so-called “Lean Beef Trimmings,” are produced by Beef Products, Inc”

Pink Slime is not the term used by educated experts in the industry but by media types trying to gain headlines.

They are not beef scraps or connective tissue. LFTB from BPI doesn’t have connective tissue in it. This I know for a fact since I have seen vats of it sent to rendering personally.

In the past it couldn’t be separated without affecting the quality of the meat, so once the fat was removed for tallow the remaining product was used in pet food since the process of removing the fat partially cooked it. NOT because of pathogenic bacteria like you imply.

The reason for Ammonia use is to increase the safety of meat. Not to make it edible but as an added level of protection. Studies of pathogenic bacteria have shown lower counts in BPI’s LFTB then your regular ground beef and this is without the treatment of ammonia. Did you realize Ammonia Hydroxide is used in the processing of Soy Protein i.e. Tofu for all you veggie people. Where’s the labeling on that product not to mention cheese and peanut butter to name a few?

So-Called “Lean Beef Trimmings”. Whats so called about it other then that’s what it is. Using your own rationale as a basis then I would be correct to say your so-called “fact checking” seems a little sub par.

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Gerry March 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

Wow ! You just proved the point. The entire meat industry is disgusting and immoral ! “Meat” in vats preparing to be sent for rendering”. Talk about yummy, huh ? Is that organic rendered fat that was swept off the floor ?
And how exactly could you have seen the vats unless you worked there ? This product is the tip of the gross iceberg as far as the meat industry goes. We’d be better off smoking, and eating bird droppings. But thanks for your unbiased opinion, huh ?

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Sandie LaMaster March 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Wow…did you really just say that?…and in print that can be copied? Really?

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doug March 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Gerry,

DH’s post is fact. Yours is opinion. Please learn the difference.

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DH March 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Great job at proving my point of people twisting facts to make their points. Like I had said “BPI doesn’t have connective tissue in it. This I know for a fact since I have seen vats of it sent to rendering personally” I should have been clearer in my wording. I should have said” vats of sinew( ie connective tissue, ligaments, etc) being sent to inedible render. ” Since to me BPI’s process is not “rendering”.

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Buddy March 28, 2012 at 2:00 am

Thanks for clearing that up DH. Gerry obviously does not know what rendering is in this context. This whole thing has blown up because there are too many people who don’t know and don’t take the time to learn.

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Free_Telly March 30, 2012 at 7:08 am

Ammonium (not *Ammonia*) Hydroxide is NOT used in production of tofu. You’re just plain lying.

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Christine April 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Research how tofu is made. Many types of tofu are treated with ammonia gas before packaging. Just like LFTB.

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4beef March 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I have been following and reading both sides of the story and I don’t understand what needs to be labelled. LFTB is beef, it doesn’t have any other products in it, it is just leaner than what we are used to so if it would be sold on its own in a market place, it wouldn’t taste as good as a burger with more fat (how many other foods can we say the same thing about).

After the LFTB is made, ammonium hydroxide is used to make the product safer – so it doesn’t have the E coli in it. Shouldn’t I be happy about this and shouldn’t I want my kids to eat this? Used in this context, I don’t believe it is an ingredient. Many foods that we eat have ammonium hydroxide and there is not talk about them being unsafe.

My belief is that the earlier articles / news media misrepresented the facts about LFTB and now many consumers are reacting on false information. This is the unfortunate part because while it is affecting BPI, it more importantly affects the whole world — without this product we will have ground beef that will not be as safe as it used to be …

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Brad March 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

If I go to a store and buy a product labeled 100% ground (chuck) beef and pay $X/lb but in fact I getting up to 15% other grades/types of meat than the chuck I think I am paying for, that’s misleading.

I think many of us would be happy w/ clear labeling, that’s it.

At that point, people can pick what they want to eat and how much they want to pay for it. Further if the LFTB provides safety benefits, maybe consumers might pick it.

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DH March 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Actually BPI make a LFTB product that is only from chuck trimming and is sold as Chuck. So you got your 100% chuck.

The grades of trimmings are no different then the grades of ground beef.

They also do Sirloin and Certified Black Angus just to name a few and these are all USDA certified products.

Next time check your facts

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Gerry March 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm

So we can’t trust any of our meat, huh ? Do you know what “trimmings” are ? They are the disgusting floor scraps that shouldn’t be eaten by humans. But you think because you run it through a few “processes” and splash it with chemicals, that it should be seen as the real thing. Maybe there is a reason why the “choice” cuts are taken first. So they aren’t confused with the lips and butts that are ground up, rendered of fat through a disgusting process and than sold as “meat”. Does your local hospital save the scraps from operations, clean it up, suck out the fat and call it meat too ? Anyway to make a buck is the lesson here. I don’t eat meat. And if you want to know why, read the people here who are defending this crap as meat. Remember, roadkill is meat too. Do you have a process for that too ?

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DH March 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Do you know what trimmings are? Floor scraps really. Its closed mind ignorance like yours that lead misconceptions.

Luckily your claims are so far beyond the truth that I doubt anyone would take you seriously.

Enjoy your ammonia processed tofu.

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EdT. March 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be seeing Certified Black Angus LFTB sold at Craft Steak or Peter Luger anytime soon.

~EdT.

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Sandie LaMaster March 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Again, Gerry….really? You actually believe that?

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Kelsey April 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

Then why are the closings of these meat plants being considered as victories by Bettina and the media? WE’RE ALL FIGHTING FOR A CHOICE. The USDA gave you “mom’s” a choice, and by making an uneducated name for the product and throwing it to the media dogs, you have TAKEN AWAY mine! Which is point blank, complete bull****!

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Barrister March 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Way to go, Bettina. Your histrionics put a few hundred people out of work. The effete foodie agenda is brought to fruition!

Better get your lawyers and insurance agent on the line. These libel suits are EXPENSIVE to fight and even more EXPENSIVE to settle. But it will be worth the $$ to you, right? Hey, it’s only money and well worth it to smear an entire industry and cause layoffs of hundreds of minimum wage earners. Their families can probably get food stamps or something. It is a little ironic that those losing paychecks over this could never afford your damned snob food in the first place. Ah, the wondrous power of orthorexia and an anti-corporate agenda!!!

Now stand up and take your medicine, my dear.

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Brad March 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Barrister there have been no histrionics by Bettina.

BPI decided to put people out of work.

Also, by refusing to meet consumer EXPECTATIONS of what they are buying BPI is the one that put the jobs at risk.

If I think I’m paying a premium price to buy what I think is 100% of one type of product, but find that it can be up to 15% of an inferior product that would leave me rather annoyed. Consumers don’t like feeling tricked.

If BPI truly believed that consumers would embrace this they would label the product to indicate what is being bought, 85% ground beef, 15% LFTB and let the market decide.

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NC March 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm

“If I think I’m paying a premium price to buy what I think is 100% of one type of product, but find that it can be up to 15% of an inferior product that would leave me rather annoyed. Consumers don’t like feeling tricked”

Really, consumers need to do their home work, USDA guidelines allow for this in certain marketed language. Yes deceiving, but no more deceiving than the local car dealer will tell you about the car they are trying to sell you. People gotta do their homework, if you want to be sure you are getting pure ground beef, pick a steak and have it ground for you!

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Sam March 30, 2012 at 6:22 am

BPI didnt put these people out of work, you did, by perertrating slander.

This product has been meating consumer expectations for over 20 years and four administrations. Nobody carred until iresponsible “chefs” put up pictures of styrofoam and cried the sky is falling!

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Jim S April 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Or perhaps it was the lack of transparency on the part of BPI that put several hundred people out of work. Had the makers of ground beef that utilize LFTB treated the consumer as an intelligent decision maker and made them aware of the manner that their meat was processed, there would have been no media surprises. Instead, they just loaded up a gun and left it on the table for the first journalist to pick up.

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DH March 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm

What do you think the former employees had to say about BPI after they were let go and had a chance to talk to the media. Did they back up your claims of slaughter floor scraps???

http://goo.gl/7gXjz

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Brad March 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm

The last paragraph is amusing: ““Our product is 100 percent beef and that’s what consumers need to understand. It’s not a filler” Letch said. “We’re not a additive , but a lean beef source. … The best we can do is to get the truth out.””

So if the package was labeled 85% ground beef, 15% LFTB and sold that way, that would be truthful and I think some people _would_ in fact buy that, e.g. because they like a lower price point, because they believe it is safer, etc.

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DH March 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm

LFTB is ground beef. Maybe it should read 85% coarse ground beef and 15% fine ground beef.

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FreeMarket March 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

DH if beef is beef is beef is beef, and “the grades of trimming are no different from the grades of ground beef” and the only difference is the texture, then why aren’t there tubes of LFTB out with all the other meat for consumers to buy? Is it sold to the public by itself without being mixed? Why does it need to be mixed with other meat if it’s all the same?

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dh March 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Good question here is my educated guess.

Just like the name says lean Finely textured beef. Its very lean on avg 95% lean and since it is ground much finer then regular ground beef it doesn’t hold together as well as coarse ground beef with higher fat content.
But it does work well when mixed with a higher fat content ground beef because you are adding more beef and reducing the % of fat. Which as we all know less fat is healthier for you.

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FarmWife March 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

@DH — That… Is awesome. (And just what I was thinking!) Labeling ground beef as ground beef. GENIUS!

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doug March 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Brad,

BPI figured out a way to get the last teaspoon of peanut butter out of the jar instead of throwing it away (or selling the almost empty jar for pennies to the pet food industry). Why should that last teaspoon be called something different than what it is…peanut butter.

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DH March 26, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I also find it funny that you claim to only support the facts yet in just 7 days you have 10 post about “pink slime” which is not what BPI produces or is added to ground beef. Sounds like libel to me. Its even one of your popular tags for your blog.

Along with Jamie Oliver http://goo.gl/vuFbo doesn’t seem like you have the best food safety agenda on your side or the truth for that matter.

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Brad March 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

You (and BPI) don’t like the currently common term “pink slime” for their fancier named LFTB product. That’s fine, but that does not in and of itself mean that the discussion is not supported by the facts. Or mean that everyone has to adopt BPI’s preferred corporate speak.

If you feel there are sources that provide specific, contradictory information on LFTB how about providing those? (Would be helpful if there were from neutral third partys as opposed to BPI or it’s proxies). For example, if BPI’s particular brand/LFTB product really is just cutting room “slop” from regular ground beef production that they are able to mechanically/chemically process, BPI clearly need(ed) to do a better job of explaining that to consumers ahead of time. (Also, I am given to understand that BPI is a major, but not the only supplier of LFTB, so are any other producers of LFTB products in the country? Are all of their products produced in the same fashion as BPI’s, etc?)

Blaming Bettina, or ABC, or anyone else for BPI surprising consumers about what they were getting is silly. This is THEIR OWN fault. This is the same problem that happened with GMOs in Europe and food manufacturers’ resistance to disclosure and investing in educating consumers seems to regularly bite them in the ass.

For example, you stated in a comment response to FreeMarket, that LFTB is not a viable consumer-facing standalone ground meat product. As such, it must be mixed into other ground meat products. I think all I (and I think I can speak for Bettina and most of us here) have asked for is for a chance to make the choice about whether we want LFTB/pink slime for ourself. That strikes me as a pretty reasonable position.

You can say I’m wrong to not want this finer LFTB beef given that you/they view it as completely safe, but quite honestly I am hard pressed to see why I should not be entitled to have the information about the contents of what I am buying to chose?

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Chris March 27, 2012 at 12:23 am

Just another reason my family opts to eat grass fed, organic, and local when possible. I no longer trust (food) manufacturers to have my best interests in mind.. just their bottom line. It is up to me to watch out for my family, and so I will.
Costco regained our business last year and has kept it with their organic selections. We buy few manufactured type of items, especially considering that we send sack lunches to school.
Thank you to Bettina for helping myself and many others make informed decisions.

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Amateur Mommy March 27, 2012 at 6:35 am

Two things amuse me: 1) The people who continue to profess there is nothing wrong with treating meat with ammonium hydroxide to keep it safe. Does this really not set off alarms for people? There are plenty of foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, etc) that wouldn’t require such processing to keep them safe. There is no way I want something in my body that requires such unnatural processing. 2) BPI’s throwing out there job losses. It is a poor economy and that tactic draws alarm and a strong emotional reaction. This country loses jobs all the time to other countries for no better reason than for companies to gain money. I feel badly for the families losing income but it makes me feel no less strongly that this is an important cause.

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Tracey March 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm

“I feel badly for the families losing income but it makes me feel no less strongly that this is an important cause.”

No you don’t. If you did, you would realize that this whole story has been over-hyped. Fine, you don’t want to eat processed food. But, what about low-income families who can’t afford to buy “all natural?” Because, let’s face it. That’s REALLY expensive.

If the (totally safe) BPI product goes away, what do you think will happen to beef prices? The loss of the millions of pounds of beef produced by BPI every year will cause prices to sky rocket.

So, not only will the laid off employees not be able to feed their families, neither will many low-income families.

So, congratulations. Your “cause” will cause a domino effect on the food market, and you’re eating your swanky whole-foods feeling proud of yourself.

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Mary March 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

LFTB = mechanically separated and chemically processed. That to me is NOT 100% ground beef. I want the CHOICE for me and my family to OPT out of a product I don’t want to consume, at home, and at school. The USDA has made a decision for me not to label this filler that I feel is wrong. I want the USDA to require it’s labeling so when I choose to buy ground beef I can CHOOSE to either purchase 100% ground beef or ground beef with 15% filler of LFTB. Have all of you naysayers forgotten that we are ALL ALLOWED a choice? Many of us feel that we were never given a choice in this matter when we should have been. That has lead to feeling betrayed, mislead and deceived. So now we want change, not job losses, not fear-mongering – a CHOICE. If the USDA had required the “filler”, “Pink Slime”, “LFTB” = mechanically separated and chemically processed to be labeled from the get go then none of this would have ever happened.

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Kelsey April 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

“Have all of you naysayers forgotten that we are ALL ALLOWED a choice?”

Mary- Your support of these juvenile “pink slime” scare tactics are exactly what took away MY CHOICE to purchase the less expensive product.

I stand by my resolution….what happened to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if you didnt like what was on the lunch menu?! This whole thing has gotten way out of hand and now I am iritated that I have to succumb to eat the beef that YOU prefer Mary.

Thank you for that.

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Jim S April 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm

You still have a choice to chase the most adulterated and processed food you may. LTFB is still legal.

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ben March 27, 2012 at 10:19 am

frankly, i don’t know why most people are blaming the media or the bloggers for the outbreak of discontent surrounding the pink slime.

many of us sincerely believe that if people want to eat meat by products, which use to be dedicated for consumption for dogs and cats, then so be it.

all bpi has to do is to execute some business savvy and sell its product to consumer as 100% pink slime “and” sell it below cost of 100% ground chuck, 100% ground round and 100 % ground sirloin.

as such, the product will likely fly off the shelves and bpi will become a multi million dollar corporation again.

further, i think that the usda would be happy with this as well because as we know, the pet food industry is very well regulated to ensure quality control. it has been long known that many senior citizens will eat pet food, inleu of people food, because it is cheaper.

so at least if bpi sells their product and label it as 100% beef by products, the senior citizens that secretly eat pet food will no longer have to hide their shame.

incidentally, here is an article about the scientist that blew the whistle on pink slime and who coined the term, so that the nay sayers accusing us of being wrong about bpi can see where it all began:

http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/nm/scientist-who-coined-pink-slime-reluctant-whistleblower

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David Terry March 27, 2012 at 10:36 am
Annie M. March 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

So many pompous gasbags so eager to control what I eat!

“The Lunchtray”…where the haughty elite meet to eat [my rights and yours]. You go, elitists! If it’s not up to your effete standards, if it costs too little in your judgement it should be banned!! God Bless America – where the smug few would rule the innocent many.

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Mary March 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Annie,
I along with a lot of other people in this country want to know what is in our food so we can make a choice. We don’t agree with LFTB added to ground beef, this is not a crime. How are the “pompous gasbags” trying to control what YOU eat? I want to have a choice in what I and my children eat, not you. If the products are clearly labeled you can choose to buy LFTB ground beef and I can choose not too. Simple as that.

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Paul March 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

Misinformation about BPI’s products…see the video for facts….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fj81Ljx58s&feature=related

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EdT. March 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

“LFTB” is not “Pink Slime”

just like

“Corn Sugar” is not “HFCS”.

~EdT.

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Scott March 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

LFTB is processed in a way to remove otherwise unattainable pieces of beef, correct?

Mechanically Separated Chicken/Turkey/Pork is processed in a way to remove otherwie unattainable chicken/turkey/pork.

Differences? I bet the Mechanically Separated camp is real happy right now that they’re required to be on a label.

Also, why isn’t there Mechanically Separated Beef anymore? Oh that’s right, Mad Cow disease, because the spinal cord fluids (containing Mad Cow) from the separating process were getting into “the product” and contaminating it.

Is LFTB made from sirloin? chuck? top round? combo platter of all three? It’s become an entirely separate entity and should be labeled as such.

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cat delett March 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

It’s a darn shame that people are losing jobs, but this is supply and demand. People no longer want this product, regardless of whether the FDA calls it safe. I’m 100% sure that McDonald’s ending use of this product had more to do with the company closing doors than Bettina.

Did anyone honestly doubt that once people knew it was ammonia-treated scraps they would be disgusted? I can’t think of one person I know who really wants to eat ammonia-treated food. On the one hand, the industry says “if consumers cook properly, they don’t have to worry about e coli.” On the other hand they are saying “we need to treat this product with ammonia to make it safer from e coli.”

Everyone has a right to know what they are eating and if the industry thought this process was so great, they should have touted it as a feature instead of hiding it.

Keep up the good work, Bettina!

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Kay March 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Please lawyer up your gonna need it

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

If you’ve left a comment on TLT in recent days and are not seeing it appear, that is an indication you are in violation of my comments policy against ad hominem attacks, foul language, etc. I will allow dissenting opinions, I will not pollute TLT with ugliness. And if you don’t like my “censorship,” feel free never to come back.

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ERB March 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm

http://www.beefisbeef.com This is a great website that everyone should check out before jumping on the anti LFTB bandwagon. I stand by the process and the meat of BPI 100% BPI and it’s supporters respect everyone’s choices on what foods to eat or not eat. All we are asking is that people take the time to become educated on this issue the media has done a great job of reporting lies and misinformation to the public now it’s BPI’s turn to inform the public of the FACTS.

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sara March 29, 2012 at 8:02 am

I watched the video. I am not convinced of any video produced by an industry. Years of history and engagement with Lobbyists, Corporate America and PR has taught me to do independent research, including non-tainted science. I have watched time and time again an industry BUY science. I have watched a mathematical model make toxins in our indoor air disappear. I have seen a trade association intimidate and lie. In fact, I have been the recipient of such threats, distortions and attempts to be silenced. Yes, I have seen the words LAWYER UP a few times.

I have also seen what happens to employees that leave and speak out. In the end of the day, for me, JUST LABEL what is in my food. I am able to research for myself from the scientists that are not bought. I can certainly follow the money to find non-tainted research.

Yes, I watched the video. And so will others. And it is all of our rights to decide for ourselves and choose. In the case of kids in schools, HISD heard the parents and chose to say no LFTB. Apparently, the video produced by your industry did not sway any concerns. Maybe you need to rethink your business model? MAYBE if you had labeled it and been transparent day one……………….but it is not labeled? Please explain why.

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sara March 29, 2012 at 8:47 am

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/02/01/mcdonalds-announces-end-to-pink-slime-in-burgers/

I guess it is for me a different question. What did the companies find in order to pull the product? Why did MAJOR food chains reject the product? Why do other countries not allow it? Can you explain that to me? Again, I want to see it on a label. Then I and others can choose. PERHAPS and that is a question a GMO is fine as well. But ask ANY rice farmer how well their crops sold to their primary market the EU when they were unknowingly sold GMO seed. Why did BAYER pay the rice farmers the three years of lost income?

For me it is a multi issue situation. Transparency, so just label it. Long term studies to determine the health of our food supply. Studies NOT purchased by the industry that will financially benefit. Clean up the EPA and USDA. If you have ever worked within or outside of these two agencies, you would quickly agree, they are OWNED by BIG Business and Lobbyists. Follow the money to understand the frustration of the consumer.

This is just ONE situation where a consumer is saying, if it s so safe and wonderful, LABEL IT!

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4beef March 29, 2012 at 9:05 am

Again, label it as what? It is 100% ground beef — what would you put on the label?

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Scott March 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

Lean, Finely Textured Beef. That’s what it is. Ex. 85 % Ground Chuck, 15 % LFTB. Simple.

It’s what the “industry” just doesn’t understand. You keep saying it’s 100% beef, then it’s not pink slime it’s LFTB. The fact is it’s 100% LFTB and that is what should be on labels.

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doug March 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

So 85% coarse ground beef, 15% fine ground beef? What nonsense.

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sara March 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

ammonia hydroxide

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Dan Wubbena March 30, 2012 at 12:51 am

Tell that to the children of the 1300 employees you just put out of work in an economy where no jobs are available. Good luck to you all when the price of ground beef reaches double digits per pound.

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Dan Wubbena March 30, 2012 at 12:52 am

Thank you Annie M. Spoken like a TRUE American.

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Dan Wubbena March 30, 2012 at 12:54 am

This is simple folks…..LFTB comes from a COW (not Ghostbusters II)….and meat from a COW is called BEEF!

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Scott March 30, 2012 at 8:32 am

So do eyeballs, hooves, tail, stomachs, utters, intestines…… how much of the “COW” does go into ground beef?

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Sam March 30, 2012 at 6:12 am

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions!” Like it or not you are responsible for 600 people losing their jobs because of what? A picture of Styrofoam! You realy are a compleat and total ass.

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FreeMarket March 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Speaking of styrofoam… I seem to remember when styrofoam took a big hit a couple decades ago when people found out potential dangers associated with its use and stopped using it (ie McDonalds switched to paper wrappers, etc). Interestingly, I still see it frequently used today, so people are obviously still employed and making that product in spite of the public outcry. My guess is that had to make some changes and adapt to market demand?

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sara March 30, 2012 at 9:07 am

please understand the consumers now care…..1 in 5 is living with a disability and so the consumer is any parent with a computer that can read. bettina is not alone………momsrising.org and many other groups brought this to my attention long before bettina.
the label my product issue is old news. you can sue the masses one day……or you can try and understand the climate…..here is another example……http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-29/mothers-trump-regulators-as-campbell-dumps-chemical

please, if you are wanting to continue to bash people that care as liberals. many of us are conservatives and trying to be honest about the why of rising tide of neuro-impairments, obesity, cancer, heart disease, etc. etc. etc….I am not claiming it is the BPI product that has created all these issues, but I do know people are wanting all food labeled as to all the ingredients and that would include the treatment ingredients.

Many of us do not trust INDUSTRY and Lobbyists. I worked for Dynegy, the company that tried to buy Enron, I saw what INDUSTRY and PR Firms and LOBBYISTS do first hand. Anyone that has worked in any industry that has been laid of today understands the who and what of business. In the last ten years, how many people have lost JOBS in this country due to the Politicians, Government Agencies, Lobbyists and INDUSTRY PR Campaigns. Due to the viral spread of information, I think most people are now very awake and aware and do not trust the PAID ADVERTISEMENT or the Governors that benefit. I am disappointed at any governor that got involved in this issue. The same governors that stood by and watched so much corruption in their own state.
I hope there will be MORE petitions and MORE voices to hold business accountable to be transparent. Just label what you want us to eat, inhale, drink etc. We can then each make a choice.

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Kelsey April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

“Our free market is founded on informed consumer choice, but in this case USDA deprived consumers of the ability to make that choice when it made the controversial decision to treat LFTB as “ground beef,” no different from ground chuck or ground round.”

Because of your comments, interviews, and blogging, in which you claim to be purely fact… you have indirectly taken that SAME CHOICE away from thousands of Americans who a) prefer that meat and b) can not afford the 16% price hike…

While becoming more and more neutral on the topic as the days go by, I have one request…

1) Pay for your childs education, and pay for the “better” meat and leave the rest of us to eat the “slime”.
2) Put the lunch menu on your fridge and make your kid a PB&J if you dont agree with the lunch option that day. Isnt that what moms do?

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