Has LFTB Really Been In Our Beef for “Twenty Years” And Without Incident?

by Bettina Elias Siegel on March 30, 2012

Yesterday’s press conference held by Beef Products, Inc., attended by no less than three governors, two lieutenant governors, and the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was a masterpiece of crisis management.   I’m still working my way through the raw footage – you can view it yourself in real time here.

But even without having seen the entire event, one factoid from the press conference (and disseminated in earlier beef industry communications) is now getting a lot of play in the media:  that lean, finely textured beef, or so-called “pink slime,” has been in our food supply “for twenty years,” with no apparent harm to the consumer.  Here’s just one such use of this fact, in a statement released by South Dakota Governor Dennis Dougard:

Lean finely-textured beef is a 100 percent beef, 95 percent lean, nutritious, safe, quality and affordable beef product eaten by Americans for 20 years.

As I’ve articulated in many posts, but perhaps most succinctly in this one (“My Response to Beef Industry Defenses of ‘Pink Slime’”) there are many reasons to oppose the undisclosed use of this cheap filler in our school food and our food supply without even discussing food safety.  But if food safety is of concern, that fact — twenty years in our beef with no harm done — is pretty compelling.

The only problem is, it’s not true.

Michael Moss, the New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about the beef industry and food safety, wrote an extensive article about Beef Products Inc. and LFTB in 2009.   The very first sentence of his article makes clear that the controversial ammonium-hydroxide-based process which creates LFTB been only been in use since 2001:

Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.

Moss goes on to describe how Eldon Roth, founder of BPI, experimented throughout the 1990s with various methods for treating slaughterhouse scraps before hitting on the combination of heating, centrifuging and treating with ammonium-hydroxide, a process USDA and FDA only approved around 2001:

One of Mr. Roth’s early trials involved running electricity through the trimmings to kill bacteria. . . . Mr. Roth eventually settled on ammonia, which had been shown to suppress spoilage. Meat is sent through pipes where it is exposed to ammonia gas, and then flash frozen and compressed — all steps that help kill pathogens, company research found.

The treated beef landed in Washington in 2001, when federal officials were searching for ways to eliminate E. coli. . . .

Mr. Roth asserted that his product would kill pathogens in untreated meat when it was used as an ingredient in ground beef — raising the prospect of a risk-free burger. “Given the technology, we firmly believe that the two pathogens of major concern in raw ground beef — E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella — are on the verge of elimination,” Mr. Roth wrote to the department.

The Food and Drug Administration signed off on the use of ammonia, concluding it was safe when used as a processing agent in foods.

So, assuming Moss’s article is factually correct (and assuming BPI was not selling this substance without governmental approval), the filler which is the subject of so much controversy has not been in our food supply for “twenty years.”

But what about that claim by BPI and its supporters that the use of this filler has been without incident?

Again, Moss’s article indicates otherwise. In the early years of selling LFTB, BPI encountered complaints from schools and prisons about ammonia in the product:

As suppliers of national restaurant chains and government-financed programs were buying Beef Product meat to use in ground beef, complaints about its pungent odor began to emerge.

In early 2003, officials in Georgia returned nearly 7,000 pounds to Beef Products after cooks who were making meatloaf for state prisoners detected a “very strong odor of ammonia” in 60-pound blocks of the trimmings, state records show.

“It was frozen, but you could still smell ammonia,” said Dr. Charles Tant, a Georgia agriculture department official. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Unaware that the meat was treated with ammonia — since it was not on the label — Georgia officials assumed it was accidentally contaminated and alerted the agriculture department. In their complaint, the officials noted that the level of ammonia in the beef was similar to levels found in contamination incidents involving chicken and milk that had sickened schoolchildren.

As a result, according to Moss, BPI made a decision internally to lower the amount of ammonium hydroxide used in LFTB, despite the fact that USDA had approved its process only when higher levels of the chemical were used:

The Beef Products’ study that won U.S.D.A. approval used an ammonia treatment that raised the pH of the meat to as high as 10, an alkalinity well beyond the range of most foods. The company’s 2003 study cited the “potential issues surrounding the palatability of a pH-9.5 product.”

Soon after getting initial approval from the agriculture department, the company devised a plan to make a less alkaline version of the beef, internal company documents show. Beef Products acknowledged in an e-mail exchange that it was making a lower pH version, but did not specify the level or when it began selling it.

Thereafter, according to Moss, the safety of LFTB was compromised:

. . . government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

In July, school lunch officials temporarily banned their hamburger makers from using meat from a Beef Products facility in Kansas because of salmonella — the third suspension in three years, records show.

What might have happened had that contaminated meat had actually reached our children’s school lunch trays, given that children are far more vulnerable to harm from foodborne illnesses than adults?

The bottom line is that the raw material used to create LFTB is, by its very nature, inherently pathogenic due to its likely contact with cow excrement.  That is precisely why BPI’s innovative ammonium-hydroxide process revolutionized the market — and has reportedly earned the company “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

But that’s also the reason why, when we eat LFTB, we are putting tremendous faith in BPI’s process.   There can be no human or mechanical error, as demonstrated by the fact that in 2009, when two 26,880 pound lots of LFTB tested positive for E. coli and salmonella, respectively, BPI first blamed the incident on a broken nozzle that had failed to spray ammonium hydroxide for a mere sixty seconds:

In addressing the latest contamination cases in Nebraska, Beef Products said it suspected a glitch in its treatment operations, referring to ammonia gas by its chemical name, NH3, according to an e-mail message to school lunch officials.

“The system was stopped for two minutes in order to install a new valve,” the company said. “When the system was restarted, there was product flow for approximately one minute without NH3 flow.”

Similarly, while I have given BPI due credit for leading the industry in testing for the so-called Big Six strains of E. coli, it’s notable that inGermany last summer, 45 people died and almost 4,000 were sickened by a previously unknown strain of E.coli — a strain which by necessity would not be part of BPI’s testing.

So when you hear that LFTB trimmings have been used “for twenty years” without incident, be skeptical.  And keep in mind the words of Eldon Roth himself, quoted in the Moss article:

“Like any responsible member of the meat industry, we are not perfect.”

 

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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad March 30, 2012 at 9:50 am

Keep ‘em honest! Their official site has lots of (at best) misleading by omission, this though does take the cake for misdirection.

Marion Nestle posts today about the intensity of BPI’s lobbying efforts: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/03/ive-been-lobbied-intense-efforts-to-save-pink-slime-aimed-at-governors-usda-officials-and-me/

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 3:29 am

brad, Hilarious post. thank you. Its only misdirecting to you because of the lies and misdirecting that you got from Bettina. Leftists like to accuse and then accuse again when the accused trys to defend themselves. That is because the accuser knows their accusations are built on lies and when found out, become more defiant of their position,no matter what truths are there, So your post has just hilarity in it. Remember, Bettina has koolaide.
Also, just wait when she has to defend herself when she is sued. She will be hilarious in defending her inaccurate information. But she will be in good company with all of her liberal media buddies. Gee, i hope they help her with the expense of a long drawn out lawsuit and then maybe they will all chip in to pay BPI. Love to be a fly in that courtroom. You know what you need to do? Start a website to collect money from you and others to pay for her defense. Its the least you can do.

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Julia March 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

Bravo. Thanks for this. Just posted a Bettina Siegal homage: http://holdouts.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/the-lunch-tray-the-left-the-right-and-the-pink-slime-revolt/#respond
This is not something I know much about, but got caught up in an argument about it with friends, starting researching and couldn’t stop. Your name kept coming up, and your research and writing helped me put things together in my own mind. I’ll keep sending people your way. Best wishes.

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Emilee March 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

How about you send them to the truth. http://www.beefisbeef.com
thank you.

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Bri March 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Let’s just please remember that 1) The beefisbeef site has been posted time and again, both here and on TLT’s Facebook page, and Bettina has shared it herself so people can read it. No need to continue plastering it everywhere. 2) As with all things…follow the money. Who created the beefisbeef site? Who stands to profit from continued production of LFTB? Just a thought.

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Lenée March 31, 2012 at 1:51 am

Thank you Bri, for pointing this out. I’ve been so frustrated in reading comments from BPI supporters who continually fall back on their old “stand by” of Beef is Beef, and continually use “industry speak” (“Label to nowhere” for example….WTF?) to get their one-dimensional point across. They continually use personal assaults and accusations of “misinformation,” “no education,” and call us liars and elitist foodies who have more money that brains (I sometimes wish that were the case with me, LOL!!).

This whole debacle reminds me of when Chipotle changed their bags to state their philosophy of “Food With Integrity” and focused on the pig, and Chipotle’s FB page was inundated by high school and college kids who plastered its walls with endless postings about their so-called ethical treatment of their factory farmed pigs.

The industry speak was rampant, they all sounded like little programmed robots regurgitating the information shoved down their throats by their parents, college professors, employers, and industry leaders, all sounding as if they were unable to think for themselves and needing guidance every step of the way. It became a huge joke on Chipotle’s wall about the “pool party participants” and their meetings used to arm them with industry speak and pro-industry propaganda, the fact that they were being used as pawns in a game, because they lacked the wherewithal, IQ, and independence to think and act for themselves.

Anyway, I’m amazed, although I shouldn’t be, that this is so reminiscent of the whole Chipotle incident……..Human nature at it’s finest……

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 3:01 am

lenea, you are a perfect example of that chipotle debacle, except you are spewing lies because you wont read and understand the truth. You are an elitist that thinks you have the answer for everyone else. You are Bettina’s chipotle low IQ drone. I hear she serves awesome koolaide…please have some

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 3:12 am

Bri, who cares who started the website? BPI and it’s employees and others can defend themselves whatever way they want. If they have one or many websites, its their right. But wait..thats right, they arent bowing to your rules where, when accused, they cant defend themselves. Isnt that how liberals work? Accuse without getting facts but when the accused defends themselves, they just get accused again. You lefties are way out in left field. Who stands to profit? Of course BPI and the employees,the contractors,the suppliers,the stores(and it will be sold again)..that statement, who will profit, was idiotic and childish.AND the public who wants the product so we dont have to pay higher prices for(all natural…haha what a joke)beef. We stand to benefit.
Go back to your thoughts, they are so inspiring.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 3:16 am

Julia, if you dont know much then you shouldnt post. If you read both sides and then you still think Bettina is the best, you havent read anything but the liberal press and media want you to know. Idiocracy at its finest. By the way, she has koolaide

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Jennifer March 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

Your quip about e. coli is an odd remark. Of course the 50 deaths in Germany last year were from organic sprouts. That tragic foodie fiasco makes a very strong argument for sensible bacteriocidal interventions to potentially dangerous foods, interventions like cooking, irradiation or ammoniation. One organic farmer in Germany killed 50 and sickened a couple thousand people. LFT beef hasn’t killed anyone we know of. It’s only crime is offending the effete sensibilities of a few internet savvy industry haters.

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Mary March 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Jennifer please do realize that E.coli is an intestinal strain of bacteria that only grows inside the guts of animals (and people). Thus, the source of the e.coli came from an animal not the sprouts. The spouts ended up being the carrier.

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Melissa March 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Mary do you know the process that BPI uses kills the dangerous bacteria in the meat? This process is 100% safe and gives us lean beef not filler. Over the last three years the USDA has run 7,000 tests and not one has ever come back positive. BPI is saving lives with this process. I live in the community where BPI is located and it is devastating what these misstatements and untruths have done. People need to learn the facts instead of believing everything that they hear.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:56 am

Wow, Mary is a scientist now. How awesome! Now drink your koolaide

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Bethany March 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Don’t blame organic food. Sure, it’s grown in manure but it is good for you. Just because pink slime hasn’t made anybody sick doesn’t mean it isn’t so gross nobody should eat it. More people eat organic food than pink slime. A lot more. So if 50 people die from eating organic food that is out of millions who are helped by it. Life is risky. We need to ban pink slime

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Emilee March 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm

So you would rather eat Organic items that are covered in crap That could very well be contaminated with e coli. than eat real beef From Bpi that has been tested over and over and not once in 20+ years been harmful to the public.

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Emilee – you might should have read the post that you just commented on. In it, Bettina debunks the whole “20 year” thing (BPI developed, and got approval, for the process they use in the early 2000s – about a decade ago, not 20 years.)

~EdT.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:41 am

Yeah Ed, Bettina debunked it? HAHAHA. Again, you are so hilarious in your blind trust of this blog. That kool aide must be the best. LMAO at you.
She just spewed lies..OMG, my sides hurt from reading your posts. I hope I can be of as much fun as you are to me.

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Jaylee March 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Ed, the company continually researches and upgrades. Mr. Roth has multiple patents one of which may have been developed in the early 2000′s. However, they actually started 30 years ago and moved to the Siouxland area 20 years ago where they opened BPI which has been producing LFTB for 20 years.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:45 am

Ok, there is more since I just had this picture of you being Igor to her dr. Frankenstein. Dobby to her Harry Potter. OMG..im laughing so hard, I have tears …for whatever reason, that is too funny.

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Bri March 31, 2012 at 8:36 am

So…that makes you…Voldemort? Okay.

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EdT. March 31, 2012 at 9:03 am

Ah, but both Dobby and Harry Potter can perform great, powerful magic.

For example, Harry Potter just made a troll disappear!

~EdT.

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Amy Sipes April 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

Jaylee, that’s not true. BPI made PDCB. It was in the 1990′s when they tweaked that process of low grade AMR and LFTB was born.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:52 am

Bethany, pray tell how do you know more people eat organic? Where are your resources? So many I guess that grocery stores have a little section for it versus the whole store? I know I know Bettina and her drones can spew out whatever without facts and its called truth but I want you to tell me where you got this info. That way I can read for myself and have a INFORMED opinion because i cannot find said information. Nice try though.

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Amy March 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

Okay, just wrote my governor (Terry Branstad, Iowa) to stop his misinformation. He is supposedly for increased education in this state, so I can’t understand why he would not want his constituents to be educated in their food choices.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:36 am

You are hilarious. You need to watch that press conferance again, or maybe for the first time, he stated that it is beef. What more do you need? Or do you need some of Ed T ‘s koolaide? Im sure Terry will feel compelled by your little letter. After he gets done laughing his *** off.

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

Bettina – thanks once again. That “20 years with no incidents” statement set off my BS-o-meter when I heard it, and I knew the evidence to confirm my suspicion was out there.

~EdT.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:31 am

Oh Thank you ED, YOU just set off my BS meter!!!! Drink your koolaide like a good boy. LMAO at you!!

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Tyler March 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

Yeah Bettina – Thanks once again for helping several thousand honest hard-working Americans out of jobs. But on the brighter side this whole mess has helped your celebrity staus. I dont know about you but my mother raised me to be honest and that is why before opening my mouth I got my facts at beefisbeef.com. We all know that once this blows over you will move on to other subjects but what will the employees who you helped crush their livelihood do…I hope you can live with that on your conscience

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Mary March 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Tyler could you maybe post a list of the thousands of people that are out of work? Or maybe the companys that have fired them? The employees of BPI are on a paid leave for two months. I am assuming that you do know because you said in your post that “my mother raised me to be honest and that is why before opening my mouth I got my facts”. I think everyone has been to that site and I don’t recall seeing anything about thousands of lost jobs. However I may have just missed it.

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Emilee March 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm

with the plants not running that means that other buinesses that depend on Bpi. ie Trucking companys, Cold storage, box makers just to name a few are also feeling the pinch. Bpi was nice enough to pay these people 2 months. But if we cant turn this thing around they will lose their jobs.

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Bri March 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

BPI could have been much nicer to those people. They could have said, “OK, we’ll start asking that beef containing our LFTB product be labeled as such, so consumers can vote with their dollars.” And then no plants would have been shut down, no one would be suspended with pay, no jobs would be lost. Instead, BPI has decided to suspend operations. Why? Why not just label beef as “Containing x percent LFTB?” What’s the problem?

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Tammy March 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Eactactly what I would have said Bri!

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:20 am

Because You arent listening….It is BEEF as it is stated on the label.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:28 am

Mary, you are just not reading anything than this slanted blog. Yes, the job losses can grow to more than a thousand + workers because BPI has suppliers, electrical companies, welders, construction crews(The Roths are heavily vested in a huge office park and expansion to the current facility),then you have thr truckers, the box suppliers. Many of these and more companies exclusively had crews just for BPI, so yes much more will be impacted than just the plants. Then you have to figure in the employees at the corporate office and the outside companies that help maintain that facility. Do you now get it?

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Anna March 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

I just watched this and the last thing that a BPI official was lets be responsible so that we can have informed citizens based on the facts. The fact is you are putting the LFTB in ground beef WITHOUT informing the citizens.. .. I’ll say it again Just Label It!!!

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Melissa March 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

This has never been an issue until now when all of the misstatements about this product started circulating by people who know nothing about it. The company is not trying to hide anything. The problem is people belive the lies instead of finding out the facts on this product. It is 100% lean beef.

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Emilee March 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

We could lable the product but all it would say is Beef.

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Bri March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Untrue. Labeling the product as “LFTB,” which is the industry standard name for it, would have solved the whole thing without any unpleasantness. Many people are unhappy with high-fructose corn syrup being in their food. It’s labeled. It’s still in production and still on our grocery shelves. Why do you believe LFTB would be any different? What’s the problem with using the industry’s name for something that’s going into our food?

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:03 am

Bri, you do seem so very sweet with your innocent posts. So very cutesy and endearing. Please dont drink the koolaide that they serve here. You honestly need to be directing your questions to other sources that arent on free for all blog. Social media is not where you should be reading. It wasnt labeled because there is nothing other than beef in the product with a puff of ammonia hydroxide, which is naturally occuring. Not any other product with the ammonia process has it labled either but the nut jobs justkeep on focusing on this product because it is a witch hunt following an agenda to get rid of affordable choices. Until all food is included in the “so called”labeling fiasco, i will continue to think that.

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 31, 2012 at 7:27 am

We Will Win:

In the interest of fair and open discourse (which, by the way I have absolutely NO obligation to provide on a personal blog), I have allowed most of your comments through since you started coming around here, despite the fact that they usually violate my longstanding policy against ad hominem attacks and are just generally obnoxious.

But do you know what? I’m done. You’ve had ample opportunities to express your pro-LFTB views here, and I think we all know where you stand. Your vitriolic bile adds nothing to the conversation and I’m guessing others feel the same way — possibly even your pro-LFTB compatriots, most of whom have managed to hold it together here and engage in civil debate, for which I thank them.

So don’t bother coming back to The Lunch Tray as your comments will go directly to a spam filter where neither I nor my readers will see have to see them. You can “L” your “AO” elsewhere.

- Bettina

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Amy March 31, 2012 at 9:01 am

Oh thank goodness. I was really sick of the Kool-aid comments.

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Brad March 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Sadly this is why so many blogs have turned off comments. That said, it is the right step, “We will” was not meaningfully adding to the discussion with all of her/his ad hominem attacks and statements like “drink the kool aid”.

I made another post today about this and the problem of the “It’s Beef Dude” slogan missing the point. http://b.feli.me/post/20236196926/the-problem-with-the-its-beef-dude-slogan

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Papa Ray March 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Always best to turn off comments, preserve the echo chamber, preach to the choir. When it gets hot smart propagandists close the kitchen. Live to smear another day.

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm

The kitchen is open 24/7 for those who can hold it together and engage in civil discourse. Please feel free to join us, Papa Ray, if you can comply with that requirement.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:04 am

Amen!!!

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm

The reason we knew nothing about it, was because BPI and the USDA weren’t telling us. And, the attitudes of some of the pro-LFBT folks here haven’t done anything to give me a sense of comfort about consuming the stuff.

Fortunately, there were folks (Jamie Oliver and Bettina Elias Siegel among them) who did know / found out about this stuff, and were good enough neighbors to inform the rest of us about it.

~EdT.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 1:52 am

Hey Ed, Hows that koolaide tasting? You are such a drone, blah blah blah..and nothing that is based on facts. Just Bettina’s little parrot. Too funny.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:16 am

Please ED, do eat what you want, just dont tell me what i can and cannot eat. Bettina and Jamie and even Jim A. will soon need any sympathy and possibly your dollars, to pay out to the Roths and the employees that they have smeared with the lies and misrepresentations. Maybe you will get lucky and be named in said lawsuits. I bet you cant wait for that day so you can feel so important and broke. LMAO
And to compare Bettina as a good neighbor, haha, what lowly neighborhood do you live in? I certainly dont think destroying a great company and livelihoods with lies and things she got from a very left slanting NYT and a wacko like Jamie Oliver, plus that USDA inspector who was fired (and by the way, hasnt been able to hold a job since his dismissal)is a good neighbor. You are so hilarious. Thanks for making me smile. Keep drinking the kool aide

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Laura March 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

It became an issue when the public became informed about what was in their ground beef. But it is not really 100% GROUND beef. The ammoniated lean beef trimmings are mechanically separated beef.
It may be a great product. Obviously, there are a lot of people who are happy to buy it and eat it and even feel that it is safer and healthier than untreated beef.
I see this as a great opportunity for BPI and beef producers. BPI can publicly tout how much better their product is and INFORMED consumers may flock to buy it. Also, now there is a market for twice as many ground beef products — those containing ammoniated lean beef trimming and those that don’t.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 2:18 am

Amen melissa

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

While talking about the plant visit: during the “press conference” afterwards, someone asked a question to the effect of why, if LFTB was actually a superior (leaner, less bacteria) product, did BPI not offer it for sale to consumers as a standalone product (e.g. “100% USDA-approved LFTB”.) I also couldn’t help but notice that the person to whom the question was asked, changed the subject, thus ducking the question.

So, I would like to pose the same question to the pro-LFTB crowd who has been hanging out around this blog: why doesn’t BPI offer a standalone product (i.e. “100% USDA-approved LFTB patties”) for sale to the public? This is not a rhetorical or other type of trick question: I really am curious about this.

~EdT.

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

I have taken this issue to my blog, as An Open Question to the Pro-LFTB Crowd. Please feel free to respond there (so we don’t congest Bettina’s blog any further.)

~EdT.

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Brad March 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

Good question… I had another friend ask me what the hub-bub was about and wrote up what I think is a fairly neutral piece on the controversy at my blog as well: http://b.feli.me/post/20175067216/pink-slime-quick-brief

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 3:34 am

thank you Brad for posting a blog. This is good because you may just get invited to the lawsuit. Hilarious

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Tyler March 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

Also – Thank you for the possiblity of $8/lb fatty 80% hamburger

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I am presuming you are basing your cost on the 1.5MM extra beef critters needed, as opposed to the $0.03 cost savings/patty realized when using LFTB… right?

Well, I have an alternative to raising / slaughtering the extra 1.5MM cattle/year: how about let’s make our burger patties 15% smaller (the max amount of LFTB that can be used, according to the USDA), and exclude the LFTB? That way we reduce our portion size, and we help the environment by eliminating the need for all those cows.

~EdT.

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Walt March 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Ed, do you work for Hershey’s? Your scheme sounds familiar — it’s the story of the amazing shrinking 25 cent Hershey bar! Pretty typical elitist attitude, though — if it costs too much for your budget you don’t deserve it so just go without. Nice. Real compassionate. At least Michael Pollan agrees with you that food should cost more, and more, and more…and families on a budget can go pound salt.

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

No, I don’t. And, my suggestion was based on data from various sources (including USDA, CDC, WHO, and other health organizations) that indicate we eat too much. My guess is that we could live with a 15% reduction in our food intake without a massive starvation/malnutrition problem, especially if the food we were eating wasn’t filled with extenders such as LFTB, fillers, preservatives, things like HFCS that add lots of “empty” calories, etc. etc. and so forth.

~EdT.

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Ginger March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I’m sure most of us could do fine with 15% less …I know I could ;-) That said, the most likely outcome will be importing beef from Australia and New Zealand to make up the difference. That speculation is already out there in several articles. The US cattle herd is currently the same # of head it was in the late 1950′s. Initially a function of efficiencies; the number has been further reduced recently due to drought in parts of the US. No rain -> no grass -> no hay & ponds dry up = sell out / go out of business.

The whole PS thing is so unfortunate for many reasons. Whatever you think about PS the truth is the 650 people at BPI will probably face unemployment at the end of the 60 days. Meanwhile I can’t help but feel like I’ve just witnessed a schoolyard bully win a playground fight. IMO nobody in this thing has a completely clean record of 100% truth. Mistakes, exaggeration, drama and truth have been mixed in a confusing boiling pot. Times are tough and we’ve all got things we care and worry about. Too bad these food fights usually end up in people going for each other’s jugular huh?

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Laura March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Ginger -
Why are you so sure the pepole at BPI will lose thier jobs? Isn’t it possible that manufacturers of ground beef products will agree to label their products to appease the consumers who want to know? It doesn’t seem like that should take more than 60 days.
I certainly agree with you that it is really unfortunate and discouraging how uncivil people on all sides of this have become. (Not all the people, clearly, but far too many!)

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Ginger March 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I’m not sure Laura but I do think it is probable that at least some of those folks will be out of work. Good that BPI is taking a deep breath and 60 days to let the dust settle and evaluate the economic fallout. But I rather doubt relabeling LFTB will salvage much of their business. After all the drama dies down and the media moves on to their next hot topic the images, sound bites and stories (both the accurate ones and the much more sensational but not-so-accurate ones) will remain in the minds of consumers and more importantly suppliers, grocery stores and restaurants. The wagons have been circled and nobody takes risks in this economy. I’m afraid the damage is done and the bell can’t be un-rung now. Maybe in hindsight a bit more restraint would have been just as effective in getting the beef industry to pay attention?

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Bryan March 30, 2012 at 11:47 am

To EdT

This question was answered in the press conference, however I do not know if it made it into the taped versions. The reason given is that since the majority of the fat is separated the LFTB is not fatty enough to stick together to make a %100 lftb patty.

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Amy March 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Heh? Reports say this is 90/10. Do they not sell 90/10 at retail? Where folks make patties from it at home when cooking it? So why wouldn’t 100% lftb patty of 90/10 not stick together but the kind in the grocery store will?

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm

LFTB is around 97% lean, according to reports. I presume you could make a variation of LFTB that was 90% lean (the “90″ in “90/10″, for those unfamiliar with that nomenclature) – but BPI would be in a much better position to answer that than I am.

~EdT.

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George from UC March 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Just as 2% milk is made from mixing skim milk (0.01% fat) and regular milk, so can 90/10 or 85/15 LFTB be easily made from the high fat meat scraps before they are centrifuged, just set aside some for mixing with LFTB later in the process. Problem solved! Remember that the beef BPI receives is mostly fat.

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Ginger March 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

The % I read was more like 94-97% lean – at that mix it would make patties fall apart. I suspect the texture wouldn’t be as pleasing either – think difference between regular hamburger and cased sausage meat e.g. brats. The mouthfeel would probably be different. Just guessing though.

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Lyn March 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm

You could make a patty out of 100% lean if you wanted too. I’m a butcher. Perhaps they wont eat a burger out of pure LFTB is because the ammonia content is to high & the pH level to alkaline? At a pH of 9.35 (which was their target level according to USDA documents), the ammonia ppm would be in the realm of 800ppm vs 150ppm in traditional untreated beef.

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Meagan P. March 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Bettina,
I am just wondering if you were able to hear the press conference yesterday and see the true character of your ally, Jim Avila. BPI allowed Jim to tour the facility. I cannot imagine many companies do this. Thank you BPI for opening your doors once again. This mother appreciates everything you for our food supply!

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Tyler March 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm

EdT – What I have gathered from my research is this. The lean beef that BPI produces is designed to give the consumer the ability to buy different ratios of lean to fat in there hamburger. Also 100% lean beef doesn’t cook well at all, if you patty two hamburgers one 97/3 and one 80/20 I guarantee you that the 80/20 burger will cook noticeably better and taste better to in my opinion.

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EdT. March 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I figured that is the issue, along with the fact that 100% LFTB would have both a disgusting taste and mouthfeel (the fat contributing to both in a significant way.) However, I still think it is a legit question, since people could take the product and use whatever binders they wished (in the case of things like taco meat, no binder needed.)

~EdT.

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The Trophy Wife March 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Touting that LFTB uses ‘ammonia’ to treat their beef is like saying that table salt is a chlorinated product similar to bleach. It’s absolutely outrageous and you should be ashamed of yourself for helping the slanderous media spread their horrible lies.

Please educate yourself before you jump to conclusions. There is no such thing as ‘pink slime’. Everything that you hear with the words ‘pink slime’ are bold faced lies. LFTB is 100% lean beef that is mixed with regular ground beef to make it more lean, healthy and cost effective. There are no ‘fillers’ or ‘byproducts’ or ‘chemicals’ used to make LFTB.

http://www.obsessionsottw.com/2012/03/slimy-truth.html

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George from UC March 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

You are demonstrating your complete ignorance of basic chemistry. BPI does use ammonia (NH3) which when hydrated forms ammonium hydroxyde (NH4OH). They have NEVER denied using it and it appears in their own videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fj81Ljx58s
Table salt is NaCl, the ionic form of chlorine, and behaves differently than bleach NaOCl or sodium hypochlorite. One has a charge of -1 and the other +1. They ARE different. Ammonia is ammonia, just like beef (“scraps”) is beef.

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kristi March 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm

In order to interpret that NY Times completely accurately, you need to have some knowledge of how any USDA inspected facility works. That article makes it sound like the meat was seconds away from being served to the children on their tray. When in actuality, nothing even made it out of the door of BPI. In any system malfunctions happen. Inspectors are there to make sure the results do not go unaddressed and they weren’t. It was dealt with and no one harmed. The “tell” in the claim of the ammonia smell and the meatloaf makers is that they ” detected a “very strong odor of ammonia” in 60-pound blocks of the trimmings”. As stated in the news conference yesterday, it is meant to be mixed with other ground beef not used on it’s own. Also, the 20 year thing, just because the NH3 process didn’t come around until 2001, doesn’t mean that BPI was sitting idle the 10 years previous to that. That was simply when that process was redirected to use NH3. If new technology comes along in the future that is better than NH3 I would imagine that the process would take a new direction. So far that is what works best. I don’t understand why this site is so married to the opinion given by one guy in the USDA from 10 years ago. Don’t you think perhaps technology in the place and the way it is inspected may have improved in 10 years? The majority of the current science would sure support that it has. I happen to be a lunch lady so I know that the USDA works tirelessly to provide children with nutritious and safe meals. I don’t think you give them enough credit. You certainly don’t give enough credit to a company that has the track record that BPI does. Go take your crusade to a company that actually works to cut corners instead of smearing a company that has invested so much time and money in innovations that help to make people safer.

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we will win March 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Bettina BettinaBettina, tsk tsk, your ignorance is showing. Let me school you and your equally ignorant foodies. It IS true that LFTB has been in your ground beef for over 20 years. The product that is sold today with the ammonium hydroxide has been around for about 14 years. The question that was asked was about LFTB. I told you this yesterday and you just dont listen. LFTB, again, doesnt have to have ammonium hydroxide to be in the product. This process was added 14 yrs ago because idiots kept dying because they cant cook their meat,. Mr Roth thought by adding the ammonium hydroxide, that he would keep idiots from killing themselves. Before you and your foodies go after me, remember that almost everything processed that you eat has this ammonium process. You cant tell me you dont eat any processed foods and if say you dont, you again lie. Again, just to repeat myself as it is worth repeating, LFTB has been in your ground beef for over 20 years. Oh, citing the highly liberal slanted New York Times as a source, is truly laughable. Trust me sweetie, all of you are doomed to be broke when the Mr. Roth is finished with schooling you on telling lies. Your mothers should have warned you what happens to liars. Shame on you. Oops, forgot you are a lawyer!! LMAO

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Bri March 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I just need to say one thing: referring to the deaths of people who were poisoned by e. Coli after eating tainted meat — improperly cooked or not — as the deaths of “idiots” sickens me. I’m certain, since you have such an excellent grasp of the history and facts of this whole case, that you understand that some of the people who died were children whose parents bought them hamburgers from fast-food places. I’d like to understand your point of view; can you please share with me how a 2-year-old child who was killed by unsafe meat was an “idiot?” I think I must have misunderstood you.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 1:25 am

Bri, i will type slowly so you can understand…ready? The idiots were the ones cooking the meat…duh. I really do feel for the people who got sick and died but they trusted unseen people, mostly fast food teenagers to cook their meat. When you eat at places where you dont know who is cooking your food, do you not check that it is cooked? I know i do and i have gotten countless of badly cooked meats, ie chicken(and it is mostly chicken that people cant cook),pork and beef. I completely applaud Mr Roth for his continued efforts to make sure beef is safe. I apologize that i offended you but i stand by what i said.

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Mom of four March 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I no longer eat meat..beef ..chicken..because everything is massed produced. The problem is that the process is hidden..why..why not tell everyone what exactly is in the food…so people can choose….they can choose the cuts they want to eat. If you look back over the last 14-20 years..diseases have also increased…because of the mass production of food.

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we will win March 31, 2012 at 1:40 am

Oh why why why cant you stay out of my food? No one but and handful of left wing nuts who swear they eat only lettuce really read labels and honey, you REALLY dont want to know where that lettuce came from and who handled it!!!Or your spinach,your tofu, your apples and everything else you think is healthy. Unless you grow everything yourself, YOU dont know! Where’s all that labeling? Why dont you nuts go after them? Oh thats right, thats part of plan you all have to stop people from eating meats. If i could win that mega millions, I would take every dime to stop you hacks from taking choices from all the rest of the people just because you dont like the labeling. LMAO

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Amy Sipes March 31, 2012 at 8:00 am

we will win: Alright. That’s enough. I’ve sit back and rolled my eyes at your severe disrespect long enough. Choice? Choice. Let’s talk about choice. Did BPI & the rest of the chain et. al. ever give anyone a choice to choose their product? Or was it forced fed to us? Try me. Go ahead. Because I KNOW the inspection system inside and out & I will rip this farce apart if you continue to spew disrespect.

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 31, 2012 at 8:04 am

Amy: Scroll down to the bottom of this page. I just banned We Will Win from TLT forever, along with a few choice words for her, and I apologize to everyone for not doing it sooner. Deep breath in, deep breath out. :-)

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Amy Sipes March 31, 2012 at 8:24 am

Just breathe. :)

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EdT. March 31, 2012 at 9:11 am

Harry Potter is a mighty wizard…

:-)

~EdT.

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SuperMom101 March 31, 2012 at 8:00 am

Curious if any of the “ground beef patties” in the following USDA recall (over one million pounds) had the 100% beef bi product (aka LFTB) in it?

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2010 – Valley Meat Company, a Modesto, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately one million pounds of frozen ground beef patties and bulk ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

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Amateur Mommy March 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

LOL, it is so humorous that this person was calling everyone left wing nuts when it’s apparent who is really nuts. Not a good way to back up your arguments, that’s for sure! Thank you for banning this person that is incapable of having a civilized disagreement

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Crystal March 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

Thanks for censoring the dissenter. It is so disrespectful for people to disagree with us. Why can’t they just trust what you tell them and leave it at that? I do! Science makes my head ache so I really love your angry mommy koolaid, Bettina!

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm

In almost two years of blogging, I have never once censored a comment because it expressed a viewpoint that contradicted my own. But as of today, I’m going to be far less easy going about allowing comments like this one to appear. It is devoid of substance, adds nothing to the discussion and and is, frankly, obnoxious. Your IP address has now joined We Will Win’s on my spam filter. Your comments will automatically be rejected from this blog without my even seeing them, so don’t waste your time replying.

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David Terry April 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

You don’t mention the article was libel and a retraction article had to ne ran.

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Sarah April 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Bettina,

It has been around for 20yrs. What happened in 1991 was that use of ammonia was approved in the process.

Beef Products Inc. history
■ 1981: Eldon Roth founds Beef Products Inc. in Amarillo.

■ 1988: Due to demand for boneless beef, Roth expands his company with a facility in Dodge City, Kan.

■ 1991: Beef Products Inc. begins production of lean, finely textured beef.

■ 1998: The company begins holding its product until safety tests return, unlike most producers in the beef industry.

■ 2001: Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials approve ammonium hydroxide use for pathogen control.

■ 2002: A USDA microbiologist coins “pink slime” in a private memo.

■ 2011: Television chef Jamie Oliver skewers the ammonium hydroxide process. McDonald’s stops using products containing the compound.

■ 2012: Roth announces he’s closing three of his company’s four plants.

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Bettina Elias Siegel April 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

Yes, Sarah, that is what I meant. This particular process, using ammonium hydroxide, was not around “twenty years ago” as many pro LFTB people have implied here and in the press. That is the only process I’ve ever addressed — on TLT and in my Change.org petition.

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Sarah April 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Bettina,

I believe the process was virtually the same except for the ammonia. Here is more from another timeline:

1993: The USDA approves BPI’s heated centrifuge process of separating lean beef from fatty, boneless trimmings.

1994: Following the beef industry’s increased attention to food safety in the wake of the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, Eldon Roth starts developing a pH Enhancement System to reduce the number of pathogens in beef. Roth’s idea employs an ammonium hydroxide gas treatment which eventually paves the way for the development of Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB).

2001: The FDA and USDA approve BPI’s pH Enhancement System to treat lean beef with ammonium hydroxide as a processing aid meant to eliminate pathogens. The company begins marketing ammonia-treated LFTB.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/04/bpi-and-pink-slime-a-timeline/

So it was heated and centrifuged as early as 1993. From what I’ve read they experimented on a few different ways to kill pathogens before they found ammonia. I think it is accurate to say that LFTB has been around for 19 years.

It would be interesting to know what percentage was found in ground beef over the years until it became 70% of ground beef. It couldn’t have happened all at once.

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