Meatingplace.com, a meat industry online publication, reports today that USDA has received and approved voluntary requests from meat purveyors to disclose on product packaging the inclusion of lean, finely textured beef. Meatingplace.com is a members-only site but the relevant excerpt of the post reads as follows:
USDA has agreed to approve requests by ground beef product makers to voluntarily label their products that contain lean finely textured beef (LFTB) or similar products that have been the focus of media and social media reporting that has frightened consumers.
“Several companies have chosen to voluntarily pursue a new claim on their product labels that will allow them to clarify the use of Lean Finely Textured Beef. USDA has received this type of application for the first time through the normal label approval process and the department has determined that such requests will be approved,” USDA spokesman Aaron Lavallee told Meatingplace. “By exercising this existing option, these companies can continue to provide a lean, safe and nutritious product to an informed customer base.”
This is a clear victory for consumers who have expressed their concern in recent days that LFTB has been included in reportedly 70% of the nation’s ground beef, up to 15%, without their knowledge. It follows on the heels of introduction of the REAL Beef Act by Representative Chellie Pingree, as well as letters in support of labeling submitted to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack by Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Sam Farr.
In other news, Iowa governor Terry Branstad has called for a Congressional inquiry into what he refers to as the “smear campaign” against LFTB:
The governor said he suggested an inquiry to U.S. Reps. Steve King and Leonard Boswell and raised the issue with Vilsack, a former Iowa governor. King and Boswell did not immediately return messages left Monday requesting comment.
You’ll recall that Branstad was one of the five governors and lieutenant governors who came to the aid of Beef Products Inc. at a recent press conference, which Marion Nestle described as “breathtakingly high-level—and perhaps unprecedented—support for the public relations troubles of a private food company.”