School Districts Just Say No to LFTB

by Bettina Elias Siegel on June 5, 2012

For much of March and April, The Lunch Tray was dominated by the issue of “lean finely textured beef,” i.e., a beef filler made from heated and ammoniated slaughterhouse scraps and popularly referred to as “pink slime.”

As you know, on March 6th I launched a Change.org petition here on the blog which asked USDA to cease the inclusion of this product in beef procured by the agency for use in the National School Lunch program.  The petition went on to garner over a quarter of a million signatures in a matter of days.  On the ninth day of the petition USDA changed its policy, for the first time giving school districts the choice of purchasing either pre-formed beef patties containing LFTB or bulk beef without the filler.

Though this result was a clear victory for those supporting the petition, I questioned at the time whether the latter choice would be an affordable option for schools, given the extra labor needed to use the bulk beef.  Today, however, the Associated Press reports that the vast majority of districts in America are taking advantage of the non-LFTB option:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the vast majority of states participating in its National School Lunch Program have opted to order ground beef that doesn’t contain the product known as lean finely textured beef.

Only three states – Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota – chose to order beef that may contain the filler. . . .

. . . . as of May 18, the agency says states ordered more than 20 million pounds of ground beef products that don’t contain lean finely textured beef. Orders for beef that may contain the filler came to about 1 million pounds.

For those of you who signed on to the petition, I wanted to share this news with you.  It’s yet more indication that your voices on this issue were clearly heard.

 

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

EdT. June 5, 2012 at 11:01 am

Interesting, Texas wasn’t among the states to choose the LFTB-“enriched” beef. Maybe because each school district has authority to order/purchase on its own?

~EdT.

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Jennifer Stubbs June 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

How can you say you succeeded with anything? What you have done by spreading your lies about this product is adding to the already out of control child obesity problem. The children of this country need to be eating ground beef containing LFTB not only because it is safer but because it is much leaner, therefore healthier for them.

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Chris June 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Nicely said, Save the Children, EAT LFTB

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Victor June 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I have even better idea: DO NOT EAT BEEF AT ALL!!! My family is a lot healthier than most beef eaters out there. We get plenty of protein from vegetables and soy.

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Anne Burkholder June 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

Bonita:

While I share many thoughts in common with you regarding the food that my children eat, I have to disagree with you in this instance. I am a cattle farmer from Central Nebraska and I have actually visited one of the facilities where Lean Finely Textured Beef is made. LFTB is beef—it is in no way a filler. It is made by taking the lean muscle that is left on the fatty tissue after whole cuts of beef have been cut off with a knife. It is a very lean beef product and it enables cattlemen and women like me to provide consumers with a lean blended hamburger. It also allows us to make sure that there is no good beef that is wasted on the animals that we harvest. Every animal that I grow makes the ultimate sacrifice to produce beef for all of us to eat—I believe that it is my moral responsibility to ensure that all good beef is used from each animal that is harvested and that the harvest process is not wasteful. LFTB helps me to accomplish this.

I believe that real problem with LFTB is that it was never properly explained to the beef consumer. I have to take partial responsibility for that, and I regret that I and other cattle farmers did not do our job in a proactive and effective way. Because we did not do our job of communicating to the consumer about this beef, people like you and your readers were not given the tools that they needed to make good decisions about the food that they purchased. Good consumer outreach and voluntary labeling would have prevented this entire controversy from occurring.

I believe that every American has the right to choose the food that they feed their families, and I believe that it is my responsibility as a cattle farmer to tell the consumer where the beef that I raise comes from. That is why I blog about how I raise cattle and grow beef on my farm. I also believe that the consumer has a responsibility to look for accurate information regarding their food, and I do not personally believe that ABC’s reporting on “pink slime” was accurate.

I hope that, in time, you and other consumers will be able to get past the portrayal of LFTB as an unhealthy pink slime product and realize that it is lean beef. However, if you continue to feel that it is not a good product, then you have the right not to purchase it. I would ask, however, that you not take the right of choice away from other consumers who may be interested in buying it. It is my understanding that BPI is working on a voluntary label so that people can make a decision on the product while shopping in the grocery store; and, as you pointed out, school districts now have the choice as to whether or not to buy hamburger that includes LFTB. I hope that once the voluntary labeling process is in place that grocery stores will offer consumers a choice.

As a cattle farmer, I would also ask that you come to me (or another cattle farmer) when you have questions about products–I promise to do my best to provide you will accurate information. I am disappointed with the media coverage of LFTB, and hope that in the future we can all work together to figure out good answers to the question “where does your beef come from”.

All the best,
Anne

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Anne Burkholder June 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Bettina–

I apologize for spelling your name wrong. I am sorry for the error–

Anne

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 6, 2012 at 12:31 am

Anne: First, no need to apologize. As a “Bettina” I’m used to just about every misspelling and mispronunciation imaginable. :-)

And I do appreciate your sharing your thoughts here, given your background. I think where you and I differ is that, as Ed T noted below and as I discussed here (among other posts), many consumers — and experts– simply do not feel LFTB is the equivalent of ground beef. That’s why I’m glad to hear that you support transparency and labeling for LFTB, which sets you apart from many in the beef industry.

I also want to thank you for the courteous tone with which you’ve addressed me here; many pro-LFTB supporters have not been able to discuss this issue without resorting to personal attacks and worse. I hope you do continue to comment on TLT and I welcome your input.

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tom woolley June 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

What proof do you refer to when stating the term “slaughterhouse scraps”? Do you have evidence of this?

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Tom: the origin of the raw material used to make LFTB is not disputed, even by those in the industry. It is made from “fatty trim” previously relegated to use in pet food and for rendering into cooking oil. Here’s a Pulitzer Prize winning article which explains: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/31meat.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

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doug June 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm

“It is made from “fatty trim” previously relegated to use in pet food and for rendering into cooking oil.”

In my opinion that statement is unnecessesarily pejorative. The inference that this trim was not good enough for human food is misleading. As you surely know by now it was simply not economical to recover the meat from the fattier peices of trim until this process was developed.

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 5:46 am

“The inference that this trim was not good enough for human food is misleading.”

No. It is opinion – the opinion, in fact, of several of the scientists who evaluated LFTB for the USDA, and whose recommendations (based on scientific evidence) were overruled by the political appointees, who later went on to careers in the beef/food industry. Coincidence? I suspect not.

~EdT.

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 6, 2012 at 7:33 am

If you’ve posted a comment and don’t see it appear after a reasonable time, the comment is in violation of The Lunch Tray’s comments policy. No comment is ever censored for expressing an opposing view; comments which include personal attacks, ugly language (or even just a needling, snide tone) will always be censored. Some might object to this moderation policy as too strict, but I am deeply committed to keeping TLT a pleasant, safe space for all. If I’m particularly offended by and/or receive several comments in violation of the policy from a single commenter, all future comments originating from that IP address will automatically be placed in my blog’s spam filter and I won’t see them for moderation.

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doug June 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Bettina,

I think your heart is in the right place but do you realize what this messag does to the rest of us who are now dying to know what the troll said?

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Nah, better left unsaid.

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doug June 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Shucks.

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doug June 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

That conclusion (which i would dispute) is about LFTB, not the raw materials that go into it, which is what we are talking about .

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Chris June 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm

So just before technology something was waisted means we should still waste it? Technology and inovation has allowed us to leave a smaller carbon foot print on this earth for our children

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 5:43 am

Why do you consider pet food and cooking oil to be “waste”?

~EdT.

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Chris June 6, 2012 at 7:42 am

Yes it is waisted all muscle tissue should be harvested from every animal. This process saves millions of heads of cattle a year from being slaughtered for no reason. That might not mean that much to you but my family enjoys being green and trying to leave the planet as clean as we can for future generations.More cattle means more diesel used in all the trucks ect…

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Chris – I may not have made my point clear. Using beef scraps for pet food and/or cooking oil and/or other purposes isn’t “waste” – there is nothing that says every part of the cow (or other animal or plant harvested) has to be used for human consumption. Pet food, cooking oil, shoes, jackets, etc. are all valid uses for such products – as opposed to dumping them in a landfill, which would count as “waste”, or including them in food meant for the same species (e.g. feeding cow parts to cattle), which has known health risks (e.g. “Mad cow disease”.)

While not advocating wasting cattle and other food animals, I don’t think it is required (or desirable) that we consume the entire thing as food.

~EdT.

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Chris June 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Differnce of opinion that is still millions of heads that do not have to die. There is no differnce between the raw material BPI uses and your roast you eat. I have waisted to much of my time on this blog so if anyone is Interested in the truth http://www.beefisbeef.com.

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mommm!!! June 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm

What about industrial beef fed with industrial corn that produces toxic manure pollutants trucked in and out and all over the place suggests a smaller carbon footprint to you?

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EdT. June 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

“I believe that real problem with LFTB is that it was never properly explained to the beef consumer.”

I beg to differ. I believe the real problem was that the politicians at the USDA overruled their own scientists in favor of what appeared to be an unseemly back-door good-old-boy arrangement with the beef industry, while allowed for up to 15% LFTB per unit of ground beef product, while not requiring any form of labelling. Regardless of the claims and protests from the “Beef is Beef” crowd, LFTB is *not* the same thing as regular ground beef. For one thing, the texture is different, being much finer a grind than the ground beef with which it is mixed. While some may prefer this, I find the mushier mouth-feel (which I attributed in the past to overworking the beef patties) to be unpleasant, and this is especially true when I eat ground beef sans bread (which is often the case these days.) I am also concerned by the fact that this meat comes with a higher level of e.coli contamination, which is why they use the ammonia gas in the first place. I know there are claims that no contaminated LFTB has ever left BPI’s plants: and yet, the very nature of beef processing leads to recommendations that the consumer, to put it bluntly, cook the “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” out of ground beef, to the point it is drier than the Mojave desert, and has the consistency of a hockey puck. Why is this, unless there is still a concern about contamination?

Also, I don’t think Bettina (or any of the rest of us) are opposed to stores offering ground beef containing LFTB, properly labelled as such, for sale: on the other hand, the stores themselves have responded to consumer pressure in their decisions to remove LFTB-“enhanced” ground beef from their shelves, and I suspect that it will be awhile (hopefully, a *long* while) before the public is willing to blindly trust the beef industry on this. Because, if the truth be told, the industry’s behavior and actions over the past few months send a very loud, clear message about their concern for anything other than their own profits.

~EdT.

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doug June 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm

“I am also concerned by the fact that this meat comes with a higher level of e.coli contamination”

You don’t say what you are comparing it to but the inference is that LFTB has a higher level of contamination than the other components used for ground beef. The vast majority of ground beef is made from the leaner trim from roasts, steaks, etc. If that is your comparison then you are wrong. This trim is every bit as contaminated as the trim used for LFTB. A very small (and much more expensive) percentage of ground beef is made from whole muscle cuts and if that is your comparison you are right. The reason is that the “bad guys” live on the surface of all raw meat. Everything below the surface, assuming it is from a healthy animal, is uncontaminated. So the more surface area in a pound of meat, the more contamination.

I sympathize with you on the hocky puck issue. However you shouldn’t blame it on “the nature of beef processing”. Although the ground beef you get is the safest in history, the technology simply doesn’t exist to deliver you sterile raw ground beef. And there is only one technology proven 100% to make your raw ground beef sterile. Heat. To 160 degrees inside and out. Which, of course, creates a burger that many, including myself, find inedible. So, one is left with the necessity of doing a personal risk assesment. In my case, since I am not 18 months or 87 years old and am not imunocompromised with leukemia or AIDS I choose to eat my burgers rare. I do this knowing that most of the time I will not even know that I ingested a virulent bug, that I may on some occaision get mildly sick for a day (and probably will not know whether to attribute it to the burger, the lettuce or the tomato), but also knowing that the more contact I have with these bugs the better equiped by body is to shrug them off.

BTW, I read yesterday that Dr. Jay Wenther, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors, is pushing for an ammendment to the “FDA Food Code to add a statement that disallows food service/restaurants from serving undercooked ground beef product to consumers.” Mayor Bloomberg is not the only nanny out there.

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

Interesting point re: the AAMP pushing for a ban on serving “undercooked ground beef product to consumers” at food service establishments. Especially that a meat industry trade association is tacitly admitting that their product is so inherently contaminated that it can no longer be safely prepared and served in a manner that it has been prepared for decades.

So much for the claims that LFTB and other output from the meat processing plants is better for us than it was in the past.

~EdT.

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doug June 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

So, are you blowing off what I said above?

“Although the ground beef you get is the safest in history, the technology simply doesn’t exist to deliver you sterile raw ground beef. And there is only one technology proven 100% to make your raw ground beef sterile. Heat. To 160 degrees inside and out.”

I will repeat. The raw ground beef you get today is the safest it has ever been in the history of mankind. It has never been sterile. The technology does not yet exist to make it sterile. However today’s product has a lower pathogen level than 10 years ago and the patogen level 10 years ago was lower than 10 years before that and so on. Even your two discredited scientists would agree with that.

The AAMP’s thought with this is actually to help protect it’s members from lawsuits. More & more they are getting sued for something they cannot completely control by people that don’t accept the responsibility for their own actions (or lack thereof).

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EdT. June 7, 2012 at 7:00 am

No, Doug, I am not blowing your point off. However, I do remember eating tartare on a sandwich bun, seasoned with salt, pepper, and onions, when I was a child. While there were some restrictions on when it could be served (it wasn’t offered during the heat of the summer), I also remember that the hospitals weren’t inundated with cases of food poisoning. I find the statement that this is the “safest ground beef in history” to be inconsistent with the facts as I have observed them, especially since e.coli is a product of the intestinal tract, and is not normally found in muscle tissue. Which means that something in the processing of the cattle carcass caused the meat (or trim) to come into contact with fecal matter (a similar problem exists in the poultry processing industry, so this isn’t just slamming the beef industry.)

So, people can talk all they want to about how beef is safer today than at any previous time in history: but, as long as we get recommendations like “FOR G-DS SAKE COOK EVERY BURGER UNTIL IT IS A DESICCATED, CHARRED HOCKEY PUCK OR YOU WILL SURELY DIE! DIE, I TELL YOU!!!!” (slightly exaggerated, admittedly) I am going to have a tough time believing it.

And, I don’t expect that beef (or anything else we eat) will be sterile. I *do* expect that one should not be required to wear a Level 5 HAZMAT suit (again, exaggeration alert!) in order to safely exist near it.

~EdT.

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doug June 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I would submit that those warnings are not driven by the actual hazzard but by the lawyers (sorry Bettina) and risk management people who are also responsible for “DO NOT USE LADDER IF IT IS ON FIRE” and “DO NOT USE RAZOR DURING EARTHQUAKE” (hey, this exaggeration business is fun). I don’t think those, or most, products are any more hazardous then they were in the past but the warning labels are enough to make you hide in a closet.

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mommm!!! June 9, 2012 at 11:13 am

Lawyers wouldn’t be needed if meat producers weren’t recalling millions of pounds of ground beef on a regular basis, and people weren’t dying from eating the product. When you have several recalls of ground beef spanning the past decades and those recalls include millions…and that is NOT an EdT style exaggeration nor anecdotal evidence…..literally millions of pounds of ground beef it’s really impossible to keep claiming that it’s “the safest it’s been in history”. Because you can google countless news stories of such recalls and ground beef related e.coli outbreaks. In fact, there’s one happening right now in Georgia and a few other southern states, although they have yet to trace a source yet.

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doug June 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Unfortunately, the evidence you are presenting IS anecdotal. Here is a link to the CDC statistics comparing 1996 to 2010. If you are interested, earlier statistics are readily available (to the extent that you are able to navigate a government website).

http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/trends-in-foodborne-illness.html

The reason you are seeing more recalls is this. While pathogen levels in beef are at an all time low the abilities to identify outbreaks and trace back to the source are at an all time high. This is one of the biggest reasons that pathogen levels have decreased.

Prior to 1993, in a typical case of “food poisoning” your doctor would be treat you for diarrhea and send you on your way never knowing for sure what you ate that made you sick, since it was almost impossible to find out.

The Jack in the Box tragedy in 1993 changed the landscape dramatically. This was a particularly virulent pathogen (e. Coli 0157:H7) that had never seen before. After months of grounbreaking investigation by the Washington Department of Health and the CDC a group of 5 potential sources of the ground beef sold to Jack in the Box’s producer were identified, although it was impossible to pinpoint one. In the subsequent litigation neither the producer or the sources were found liable. This is because the technology did not exist to produce 100% pathogen free unadulterated ground beef. It still doesn’t, unless you count “cold pasturization” (surface radiation with gamma rays) which many consumers find unacceptable. Jack in the Box was was found to have sole liablity for the outbreak because they did no take the prudent step of cooking their hamburgers to a point that would insure lethality of the pathogens.

I tell this story to illustrate this point. The reason that the lawyers become involved is not because raw ground beef is pathogenic. That is a given. The lawyers become involved because many people refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of under cooking their burger, consequences that can be far more devestating since 1993.

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doug June 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Sorry about the gramatical and spelling errors. My ability to proofread improves 100% after I hit the submit button.

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mommm!!! June 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Try to tell the whole story. The ground beef was coming out of the plant and/or the slaughterhouses contaminated already. To better understand exactly WHY there was no pinpoint on WHERE in the extensive process the contamination happened I give you this article….
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/health/04meat.html?pagewanted=all

…..which explains in great detail HOW a ground beef patty is generally assembled in the states. It’s a lengthy process involving more than a few slaughterhouses, more than a few processes, more than a few processing plants, all across more than few states, and thousands of cows from more than a couple of countries. It’s such a dizzying maze that’s it’s no wonder the fast food joint got dumped with all the responsibility.

If the product wasn’t coated in feces, contamination would be less of an issue. That’s just common sense. I wouldn’t call the emergence of antibiotic resistant pathogens in beef products the result of pathogens being “at an all time low”. The idea that we have come to a place in time where I have discussions with people who believe that it should be a given that raw ground beef is a petri dish and that it should be acceptable as such is a glaringly obvious example on how far apart we are on this discussion. You might be willing to accept feces and pathogens as food. I am certainly not and I’m certainly not willing to hand over my hard won dollars for such complacency and filth with a shrug, let alone letting something dangerous enough to kill cross my son’s lips willingly. I’m his mother and it is my JOB to protect him from harm. I’m continuously shocked at the appalled response to this by beef industry cheerleaders. It’s almost like….how dare I want to keep my child from dying at the hands of our food supply! Contaminated beef is just normal! That one time, 20 years ago, those kids that died from e.coli, well it wasn’t proven that it was from beef so it’s ok!
I mean c’mon. Really?! Realllyyyyyy???

Also, it was the meat packing industry that hired lawyers to fight the USDA ban on e.coli 0157, which they lost in 1994 as a direct result of the 1993 debacle involving a fast food chain. (hhmmm…why would the beef industry fight to keep e.coli 0157 alive and well in beef products people buy in stores…IF THEY WEREN’T RESPONSIBLE?! )

But anyways.

Often, I get into these discussions where I feel like I’m trying to defend evolution to someone who believes that people rode dinosaurs. Now THAT, is sarcasm, not to be confused with anecdotes, because, well, there are people that believe that dinosaurs and people lived during the same periods and that is a fact, however, I’m not saying you believe that because that would be an assumption. It was merely an analogy. :)

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doug June 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Try to read the whole story.

My statement: “…a group of 5 potential sources of the ground beef sold to Jack in the Box’s producer were identified.”

Your response: “The ground beef was coming out of the plant and/or the slaughterhouses contaminated already.

My statement: “Jack in the Box was was found to have sole liablity for the outbreak because they did not take the prudent step of cooking their hamburgers to a point that would insure lethality of the pathogens.

Your response: “It’s such a dizzying maze that’s it’s no wonder the fast food joint got dumped with all the responsibility.” Dumped? They earned the responsibility by undercooking their burgers. And “That one time, 20 years ago, those kids that died from e.coli, well it wasn’t proven that it was from beef so it’s ok!” You made that up, right? I have never heard anyone say that. It was shown very clearly that Jack in the Box hamburgers were the immediate source.

My statement: “The raw ground beef you get today is the safest it has ever been in the history of mankind.”

Your response: “The idea that we have come to a place in time where I have discussions with people who believe that it should be a given that raw ground beef is a petri dish and that it should be acceptable…”. Raw ground beef and all raw meat has always been a “petri dish”. What we have come to is a point at which there is less in the dish than ever before.

I think it’s time for us to end this discussion. Clearly, your mind is made up and I am just trying to confuse you with the facts.

I will, however, take issue with you on one more point. You are not defending evolution. You are defending your faith against the scientific and fact based onslaught of evolution.

doug June 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Also, you should be wary of anecdotal evidence. Things like “My grandfather was a chain smoker and he lived to be a hundred and two. Therefore…..”

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mommm!!! June 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I disagree that raw beef is safer now than it ever was before. If that were true we wouldn’t even be involved in this discussion. My disagreement does not equal confusion. I’m crystal clear on the facts.

“You are defending your faith against the scientific and fact based onslaught of evolution.”

Say whuutt???

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doug June 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

In the same report USDA estimates that the purchases of non LFTB ground beef will be at a 3% premium. Wonder where those states are going to cut the lunch programs to make up the $1,250,000+ shortfall. Pretty hollow success. Everyone has lost in this fiasco.

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 5:42 am

Maybe they can make the portion sizes a bit smaller – saving not only on food costs, but also on kids’ waistlines. Everybody wins! (except for producers of LFTB, that is.)

~EdT.

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mommm!!! June 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I’m baffled by this for a couple of reasons.
One, is that “leaner” ground beef (ie containing less fat) is always priced higher than ground beef containing more fat product, which is the opposite of what pink slime is, no?
Two, is that less mechanization (ie no power being used, no crude oil being consumed, and no trucks driving this stuff around on diesel fuel) would indicate less expenses.
Three, is if they are so hell bent on making this stuff, can’t they just funnel it into pet food?

I have a hard time feeling sorry for an industry buried under secrecy and lobbyists and funded by subsidies that produces a lethal product to children. Really, I do. In fact, if I were in charge of buying school district food, I would respond to this fiscal “shortfall” by not buying beef at all. Then no one has to worry about where to get the extra million bucks. It’s a win win in my opinion.

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Chris June 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

Edt you guys keep holding on to what 2 lieing crack pot scientists are saying. Why is no other real scientists agreeing with them? Go pick up a copy of any meat magazine and the experts (unbius) all defend LFTB. There is a lot more than 2 scientists praising us for what they do, but yet I don’t seem to see anymore so called men of science agree with your cause except the 2 who got together to make the lies up to begin with. BPI is given awards for the Technology that have been invented and. several awards for saftey in the meat industry. Point is there are a whole lot more experts backing us than there are spreading your slander. You need to explore the possibly that your so 2 so called scientists might just in fact be liars trying to get there 15 minutes of fame.

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 8:54 am

Or, they may be two professionals who were doing their job, and yet their conclusions were at odds with people who had a vested economic interest in a different outcome. And so, their conclusions were overruled, their good names were disparaged, and the industry/government cabal* brought in other, more “agreeable”, people who would rubber-stamp whatever the cabal* members wanted.

~EdT.

(*There Is No Cabal.)

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Chris June 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

You honestly believe that all the college level educators are lieing about LFTB? These are educators you trust to teach your children and are experts in meat field. I find it ironic that most of your answers have to involve conspiracy theorys by the government. BPI is a steller company who makes a healthy product and should be praised for thier innovations not be smeared by all the mis truths in the media. Even this blog has had to admit to put inacurate infor about LFTB out there.

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

Chris – the only inaccuracy was the accidental inclusion of the wrong photo to the petition, removed the next day. It was seen, by my best estimate, by only a few thousand of the quarter of a million people who signed the petition.

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Chris June 6, 2012 at 11:13 am

That is the problem with Social and national media. A few thousand people seen it and if they all told a couple friends who told a couple friend then what? Just like a nasty high school roomer with a derogatory name it spreads like wild fire on Facebook and Tweeter. That is why that same picture you used shows up associated with LFTB everywere because the media including yourself did not fully research LFTB before reporting. And in my honest opinion you and the media are still not fairly reporting on it

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Really! June 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

Chris,
It is called Cyber Bulling

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Chris T June 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm

You say that was the only inaccuracy, but for something that you “say” you had researched so much before you started your campaign you think you would of caught that. You did just like anyone else and went directly for the “Ick” Factor. To scare people into believing that what their kids were eating was so bad for them. For someone that is so educated(Not being Sarcastic) i find it hard to believe that you have researched this product. Seriously you should be ashamed of what the end result of your Campaign has caused. People losing jobs for doing nothing wrong. A company loosing business for doing nothing wrong. In the end you hurt more people than this Product ever could have done in the lifetime of its existence. Thats something you should be very proud to be part of. I’m not just saying this to blame it all on you because many people were involved. Just something to think about did you really do something good?

Chris H

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Chris H June 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

PS my above comment somehow put “Chris T” for my name … should be “Chris H” like i Signed Maybe you could fix it

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Actually, Chris, pro-LFTB supporters (and the beef industry at large) can hardly complain if consumers like me previously did not know what this filler looked like nor the “insider” term for it – i.e., “lean, finely textured beef.” It is precisely because it was not disclosed to us and no pictures of it were widely available on the Internet before this controversy ensued (and believe me, after I realized my error, I looked) that many of us mistakenly believed it looked like pink goo. As I recently told the New York Times in a letter to the editor, secrecy creates a vacuum.

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Margie June 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

So then, you admit you were mistaken about what LFTB was and what it might look like during the production phase. That, however, didn’t prevent you whipping up a mass hysteria frenzy then or now. Your intention could not be any clearer and it has absolutely nothing to do with kids except to use them as pawns to frame your petition. Shame on you.

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 7, 2012 at 11:46 am

To the contrary, Margie. What I did not know was what the substance looked like, an aspect of the filler which has never been relevant to my concerns about it — concerns which, btw, were very clearly shared by the vast majority of the American public.

While you and other pro-LFTB commenters certainly may continue to post here (so long as you abide by my comments policy) I’m letting you all know that I have no plans to “relitigate” in this comments thread an issue which I discussed in great depth on this blog for several weeks.

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mommm!!! June 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I was a proud signer of that petition and I don’t regret it in the least. In fact, most of my family and friends also signed that petition all for the same reason I did. I’m sick of being lied to by the beef industry. What the stuff looks like isn’t even relevant anymore.

But for the record, this stuff has been all over food documentaries, complete with pictures and facility tours on camera long (years) before this petition was even a glimmer in the eye of TLT. So this is not a surprise to people like myself. (and yes it is pink~ish)

I love how an entire industry can lie to it’s consumers on many levels from ingredients, to labeling, to growing processes, to slaughterhouse filth, mad cow disease, and on and on and on…..but gawd forbid one suspicious picture comes out and everyone is up in arms into shaming someone that achieved something beyond great by bringing it to screeching halt. It’s my real life David and Goliath as far as I’m concerned. I’m still in awe of it.

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Angela P. June 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Industry didn’t “lie” to you. It didn’t hide anything from you. You feigned alarm and disgust to systematically throw hundreds out of work. That is your accomplishment and your pride. Don’t lie to us, don’t hide your real agenda. We get it.

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mommm!!! June 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I didn’t feign anything, trust me. And I’ve never been anything but vocal about my stance on “throwing hundreds out of work”. Good riddance as far as I’m concerned. It’s a failed system that relies on pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and crude oil and is a major source of pollution. I’m not shedding any tears. Commercial beef isn’t so concerned about putting the small cattle grower or the small slaughterhouses out of work. Yanno, rocks and glass houses right there.

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EdT. June 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

Bettina –

Let me guess: you went to your doctor, who expressed concern that your blood pressure was getting too low, along with the levels of stress hormone in your system. And so you took action to immediately increase both. Amirite? :-)

~EdT.

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Bettina Elias Siegel June 6, 2012 at 9:22 am

LOL! Yes, and it’s been SO effective!

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Anne Burkholder June 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Bettina and others,

I would like to make a few comments regarding hamburger in general–I hope that is ok. I make these comments as a mother of three children (in addition to the fact that I raise cattle that are harvested to make beef). These are things that I consider when I purchase and prepare ground beef (hamburger) to feed to my family.

1. I always cook the meat properly and make sure that I thoroughly clean my kitchen and my hands after handling it. I eat my steaks medium rare, but I cook my burger to 160 degrees. I believe that this is the only way to ensure that the ground beef that I feed to my kids contains no food borne pathogens. I think that this is an important practice for all of us to do regardless of whether or not the ground beef contains LFTB. There are many points in the food production cycle where contamination can occur for ground beef, so I choose to cook my burger to ensure its safety. Ground beef is more likely to contain a food borne pathogen than whole muscle cuts of beef because it is usually made from trimmings and is sometimes handled many times before it ends up on your dinner plate. Food safety is something that I think about every day both on my farm and in my kitchen. I think that it is increasingly becoming more important because most American consumers no longer live on a farm in a situation where they might naturally develop an immunity to those pathogens. I believe that food safety is a responsibility that we all share a part of.

2. If you prefer to eat your hamburger not cooked to 160 degrees, I would personally spend the extra money to purchase burger that is ground from whole muscle cuts at the butcher or grocery store where I purchase it. It will cost you more money, and you still run the risk that the equipment at the butcher / grocery store or your own kitchen may be contaminated, but it is a safer bet than eating ground beef made from trimmings that was not cooked to 160 degrees. To me, it is all about choice—and I agree that proper labeling enables the consumer to make better choices.

3. It is my opinion that ground beef is a popular food item because it is reasonably priced and can be prepared many different ways. I believe it to be a good product and I believe that there are many choices relative to purchasing options. You can buy anywhere from a 70 / 30 ratio product to a 95 / 5 ratio product. Again, it is about consumer choice relative to the type of food that you would like to eat. I will share with you that I believe that it will be difficult to continue to provide the leaner ratio ground beef without the use of LFTB. The supply of lean grind beef is limited in our country. What I see occurring to fill the need for lean ground beef without LFTB is imported meat from older animals from other countries. However frustrated anyone is with our government and its labeling process, I think that it is important to point out that regulations for imported beef are not as strict (as a general rule) as for domestic beef. As a consumer, this bothers me.

4. Finally, I get the sense that some of you are very upset about the way that the “beef industry” handled LFTB in terms of consumer outreach and government regulation. I am not a part of the packing plant or food distribution service, but I am part of the beef industry because I raise cattle. I am saddened that so much consumer trust has been lost over this issue. As I stated above, I take partially responsibility for that because (as a member of the beef industry) I agree that we did not do our job to be transparent to the consumer in this instance. I hope that in the future we will do a better job. I want to tell you all that you are important to me. Not only are we fellow Americans but you are the ultimate consumer of a product that I work very hard to grow. Your thoughts and opinions are important to me, and I hope that the information that I can share with you about how I raise cattle and grow beef on my farm are important to you as well.

I believe that together we can figure this out, but it will take empathy and a respectful conversation to do that. One of the things that I was most upset about over the “pink slime controversy” was the way that the media portrayed the product and conducted themselves while reporting on it. The reporting (I felt) was sensational and conducted in such a way as to strike a level of hysteria. It seemed to me that ABC was interested in sparking a controversy that they could report on rather than sharing factual information about the product. I find that bothersome and I do not feel that this type of reporting is a good start to a respectful conversation.

I appreciate the ability to comment here and to hopefully start a conversation where we can both learn from each other.

All the best,
Anne

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mommm!!! June 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Actually, I believe the EuroUnion has stricter guidelines on beef than we do and also, do not allow many of the practices that the American and Canadian beef growers employ, like using estradiol, a known true carcinogen, which is suspiciously similar to the banned DES, one of the first growth hormones (and also a true carcinogen) used back in the 70s when residues of this product were found on the meat.

So here’s where I’m at with all of this. Was the picture of pink slime sensationalized? Probably. But who cares? There are so many dirty, harmful, grossly abused, practices in the processes involved in growing beef, slaughtering beef, feeding beef, etc that it’s obvious the public is tired of the constant barrage of every sneak behind the secretive beef curtain revealing shocking atrocities. I’m worn out from it. It’s obvious that organic beef is the only way to be sure that as a consumer I’m not somehow perpetuating the cycle of bad business practices. Organic beef is the only way I can sit down at the dinner table with my son without having a knot in my stomach and grinding my teeth with every bite my son takes. When we have arrived at a place where we are raising our children on antibacterial soaps and teaching them how “dangerous” our meat products are then we have clearly failed.
It doesn’t matter at this point what pink slime actually looks like. The point is that it’s highly processed, possibly dangerous, unlabeled product that lots of people would rather not eat. Not because of what it looks like, but rather because lots of people would rather not eat mechanized foods. Lots of people would rather not eat some secret ingredient unwittingly. Lots of people would rather not eat something sprayed with chemicals. Lots of people would rather not eat irradiated foods. I could go on and. The point is that what it looks like is really not important. And when you accept people’s money for a product, then you open yourself up for scrutiny. Just because lots of people don’t want to buy your product doesn’t mean that we should be forced or coerced into buying just to protect your bottom line.

I know some farmers. Some grow beef, some grow potatoes, etc. For the commercial farmers I know, they keep a separate plot for the family. A potato farmer I know won’t feed the potatoes he grows to his family. They grow a separate plot because the commercial crop is so laden with chemicals. I don’t know of any beef growers that eat the beef they grow unless they are growing grass fed beef from start to finish. And on a side note about labeling…..I’ve learned some time ago that beef labeled “grass fed” is not necessarily grass fed from start to finish and that often “grass fed” beef is “finished” on a feed lot. So when it’s all said and done, it’s not enough for consumers to be educated in beef processes to make buying decisions at the grocery store, but they need to be educated in the concept that the beef labels also aren’t entirely truthful.

So what you see as hysteria I see as a final straw in the minds of many consumers. I think that the beef industry is in denial about consumers attitudes towards the beef industry today. And as long as that continues, then when flashpoints like pink slime happens, then the beef industry will continue to say things like “hysteria” when in fact, there are many consumers who are just tired of the bull manure (the expletive has a nicer ring). Excuse the pun.
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I got to the store to buy a steak I expect the package to contain BEEF. What I don’t expect is for there to be additional ingredients in my steak. Yet, there are many different ingredients in my steak. Oddly, if I pick up a box of cereal, all the ingredients are listed on the side of the box. This is not the case with beef. What the “beef is beef” peoples regularly leave out of their argument, is that todays beef is so much more than just beef. It also contains hormone residues, regular pathogens, antibiotic resistant pathogens, feces, chemical sprays, and chemical residues. Why are these not listed as ingredients since they do exist on and in our commercial meat products that we buy at the store? I mean, if pink slime is hysteria to you, why not just label all the ingredients used to make your product? Just call it what it is. That way everyone knows and no one is surprised when truths about commercial beef products emerge.

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doug June 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm

For your own sake, please don’t assume that your organic beef is less pathogenic than non-organic. It is not. Organic growers and processors face the same challenges as the rest of the industry and the risks, while minimal, are virtually the same.

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mommm!!! June 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm

To that I say, do your own testing. Because that is the only way you can make that statement with accuracy. Otherwise, that is just your opinion. Until you can provide accurate test results from both organic and commercial beef, then I’m calling your bluff.

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EdT. June 11, 2012 at 7:17 am

Doug – pathogens aren’t the only reason for choosing organic beef. Cattle that are raised without growth hormones, or massive doses of antibiotics, or other items commonly used by the beef industry to maximize production provide other incentives for folks to eat them.

~EdT.

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doug June 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm

And I am calling yours. Here is a 2010 study from Perdue University.

“Contamination rates and antimicrobial resistance in bacteria isolated from “grass-fed” labeled beef products
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease”

Jiayi Zhang, Samantha K. Wall, Li Xu, Paul D. Ebner

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2010.0562
Abstract
Grass-fed and organic beef products make up a growing share of the beef market in the United States. While processing, animal handling, and farm management play large roles in determining the safety of final beef products, grass-fed beef products are often marketed as safer alternatives to grain-finished beef products based on the potential effects of all-forage diets on host microbiota. We conducted a series of experiments examining bacterial contamination rates in 50 beef products labeled as “grass-fed” versus 50 conventionally raised retail beef products. Coliform concentrations did not differ between conventional and grass-fed beef (conventional: 2.6 log10 CFU/mL rinsate; grass-fed: 2.7 log10 CFU/mL rinsate). The percentages of Escherichia coli positive samples did not differ between the two groups (44% vs. 44%). Enterococcus spp. were frequently isolated from both grass-fed beef products (44%) and conventional beef products (62%; p=0.07). No Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7 isolates were recovered from any of the meat samples. Enterococcus spp. isolates from conventional beef were more frequently resistant to daptomycin and linezolid (p<0.05). Resistance to some antimicrobials (e.g., chloramphenicol, erythromycin, flavomycin, penicillin, and tetracyline) was high in Enterococcus spp. isolated from both conventional and grass-fed beef. There were no differences in the percentages of antimicrobial resistant E. coli isolates between the two groups. Taken together, these data indicate that there are no clear food safety advantages to grass-fed beef products over conventional beef products.

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mommm!!! June 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I’ve already stated that beef labeled “grass fed” is not grass fed from beginning to end and is a misleading label to consumers in an above post. Beef labeled grass fed is probably 99% finished on feed lots, which exposes that beef to everything on those feed lots and therefore, is the same thing as feed lot beef so OF COURSE the test results are going to be the same. Because the “grass fed” label is a consumer scam. That’s old news. But let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that we are discussing cows grass fed from beginning to end. If they are still being farmed with hormones and antibiotics then of course it really doesn’t matter what you feed them and your point is still moot.

Also, grass fed is not the same thing as certified organic. Obviously. So I’m not sure why you’re diverting from organic to what the beef industry defines as “grass fed”.

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doug June 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

EdT

I am not making judgements here on the relative merits of organic vs conventional beef. That choice is a personal preference. I am simply talking about the realities of food safety, specifically in beef.

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mommm!!! June 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Here is a link to help you understand the current characterizations of conventional, natural, grass fed, and organic standards of meat. The slide you are looking for is number 27 in this presentation from the beef industry.

http://www.eatrightvt.org/docs/Vermont%20Academy%20of%20Nutrition%20and%20Dietetics%204-2012.pdf

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Anna Michaelson June 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

Bettina,
I’ll bet you would like to put the LTFB issue to rest. The only problem is, it is still affecting nearly 700 BPI employees that now have no job as a result of the hysteria.

But worse…in this nation of rising obesity, the reduction of the LTFB supply is actually having a negative health impact on our nation’s consumers. As referenced in the well-researched article below, people (including parents of children) are now buying fattier beef as it is less expensive than the lean cuts without the LTFB additive. It’s such a shame that people’s jobs and health could be so affected by this.

http://savvyconsumer.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/continued-fallout-from-pink-slime-hysteria/

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mommm!!! June 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I’d like to point to the thousands of jobs industrial beef has cost this country which are directly related to the systems on which industrial meat relies…. such as vertical integration, contract growing, environmental pollution, neighboring farm contamination, concentrated production, and industry consolidation.

You basically have a meat production system that is ruled from beginning to end by a small handful of corporations all trying to make the cheapest product they possibly can. 700 hundred jobs lost on the industrial beef side is a drop in the bucket compared to the harm industrialized meat has done to this country and to it’s people.
Also, leaner ground beef has always been priced higher than ground beef with higher fat contents so this is not a new development as a result of the so-called “hysteria”.
(and I didn’t find the link to that blog to be savvy at all)

Lastly, people’s bad choices make them obese, not ground beef with a little more fat in it. Good grief.

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Anna June 15, 2012 at 9:53 am

Mommm…
When you can show me numbers or at least a researched article to back up your claim of all the jobs the beef industry has cost the US, I would be inclined to listen. Short of that…your claims are just unsubstantianed opinion.

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mommm!!! June 15, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Sure :) Here is a direct excerpt from Farm Aid’s website:

“Since Farm Aid started in 1985, our hotline has answered calls from farmers and ranchers struggling to stay on their land due to the growth of corporate concentration. Each day that goes by without antitrust enforcement results in the increased loss of America’s greatest asset — family farmers,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Family farmers are the backbone of our nation’s economy and are crucial to rebuilding it, but to do so they need fair markets.”

Last year, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made history by holding a series of landmark workshops dedicated to exploring issues of corporate concentration, antitrust violations and competition in agriculture. From Ankeny, Iowa, to Washington, D.C., Farm Aid was present at each of the six workshops and heard firsthand the experiences of America’s producers who are struggling to compete in agricultural markets dominated by corporate power.

American agriculture is extremely concentrated, giving just a handful of corporations control over U.S. food production and consumption. As a result, crop farmers have been persistently confronted with limited options for seed and increasingly high production costs; livestock producers have struggled with low prices and too few buyers; and poultry farmers face intimidation and unfair contracts. This lack of fairness has resulted in hundreds of thousands of independent family farmers being forced off the land, with negative impacts on rural economies, public health and our environment.

End of excerpt. But wait! There’s more! :)

“WASHINGTON—On the eve of the final Department of Justice/USDA public workshop examining the effects of corporate concentration in food and agriculture, a coalition of farm and food activists submitted almost a quarter of a million (nearly 240,000) petitions calling on both the Justice Department and USDA to take swift action to curb the abusive market power that a handful of corporations exert over farmers and consumers.”

End Excerpt. And MORE!

“America has lost over half its dairy farmers in the past sixteen years while prices for dairy farmers have crashed below 1970 prices. Dairy farmers are in crisis, largely due to a broken pricing system and rampant corruption in the dairy industry.
NFFC’s Dairy Subcommittee has repeatedly urged Senator Leahy (D-VT) to convene hearings into the widespread corruption and antitrust practices of the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), and its affiliates National Dairy Holdings, Dairy Marketing Services (DMS), DairyAmerica, Dean Foods, Fonterra, and others.

NFFC has worked tirelessly to expose the failures of a milk pricing system that allows a few corporate players to manipulate prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Due to NFFC’s efforts and protests, Dairy Farmers of America was fined $12 million for price manipulation in December 2008.
“”Farmers from California to Wisconsin to Vermont are being threatened with extinction not due to overproduction, but thanks to a corrupt pricing system that fails to consider farmers’ cost of production. DFA has a virtual monopoly on milk markets in many parts of the country.””

– Paul Rozwadowski, Wisconsin dairy farmer and NFFC Subcommittee Chairman.

End excerpt. And more….. :/ (from globalissues.org)

“[B]eef is terribly inefficient as a source of food. By the time a feedlot steer in the United States is ready for slaughter, it has consumed 2,700 pounds of grain and weighs approximately 1,050 pounds; 157 million metric tons of cereal and vegetable protein is used to produce 28 metric tons of animal protein. … [B]eef in the quantities that Americans consume it is unhealthy, being linked to cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Yet Americans are among the highest meat consumers in the world and the highest consumers of beef.

— Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999) p.221″

“If water used by the meat industry [in the United States] were not subsidized by taxpayers, common hamburger meat would cost $35 a pound. You need 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat—2,500 gallons to generate a pound of meat

— Simone Spearman, Eating More Veggies Can Help Save Energy, San Francisco Chronicle, June 29, 2001. (Emphasis Added) [Previous link is to a reposted version at Commondreams.org]”

And…..
“Food aid (when not for emergency relief) can actually be very destructive on the economy of the recipient nation and contribute to more hunger and poverty in the long term. Free, subsidized, or cheap food, below market prices undercuts local farmers, who cannot compete and are driven out of jobs and into poverty, further slanting the market share of the larger producers such as those from the US and Europe. Many poor nations are dependent on farming, and so such food “aid” amounts to food dumping. In the past few decades, more powerful nations have used this as a foreign policy tool for dominance rather than for real aid.”

And from cultivatefoundation.org…..

“But many people argue that the cost of the food from industrialized farming operations is artificially low because some of the cost of production is shifted to other parts of the system in terms of animal suffering, environmental degradation and the deterioration of local farming communities.
The disappearance of small farms has shown to have significant impacts on their local economies. Studies have shown that small farms provide more local jobs and purchase more supplies from other local businesses than their industrial counterparts, creating a multiplier effect to support the community.”

And from sustainable.0rg…..

“Rural economies
Among the hidden costs of industrially-farmed food is its effects on small family farms and rural communities, which include the loss of nearly four million farms in the United States since the 1930s.2

Sustainable farms support local economies by providing jobs for members of the community and purchasing supplies from local businesses. A University of Minnesota study showed that small farms with gross incomes of $100,000 or less made almost 95 percent of farm-related expenditures within their local communities.3 Further, studies have shown that small, locally owned farms have a multiplier effect: for every dollar the farm spends, a percentage remains in the local economy, contributing to the economic health of the community.4

Factory farms hire as few workers as possible and purchase equipment, supplies, and animal feed from the same agricultural conglomerates they produce their products for, further stagnating struggling rural communities.5 The University of Minnesota study referred to above showed that large farms with gross incomes greater than $900,000 made less than 20 percent of farm related expenditures locally.6 Industrial farms often have absentee owners whose profits are sent out of town.7 As a result, rural areas with factory farms endure high rates of unemployment and limited opportunity for economic growth.

Economic Efficiency
Even when the hidden costs of factory farming are ignored, industrial agriculture is simply less efficient at producing food than smaller, sustainable farms. While large-scale, single crop (also called monocrop), industrial farms produce a large output per worker, diverse crop, sustainable farms produce more food per acre of land.8 In other words, sustainable farms require more workers and create more jobs, while also doing a better job at feeding people on smaller plots of land than industrial farms.

Despite decades of claims to the contrary, industrial farming has not relieved famine or hunger throughout the world. On the contrary, industrial agriculture has fed a culture of over-consumption, particularly in the United States, where nearly half of all food is tossed in the trash while,9 at the same time, the population is in the throes of an obesity epidemic.10

Meanwhile, a study by the University of Essex found that sustainable agriculture increased productivity by an average of 93 percent on nine million farms in places including the Sahel region of Africa, the hills of the Andes, the rainforests of Southeast Asia, and other areas where synthetic-chemical-dependent farming is neither affordable nor successful.”

Over the last 50 years, the total number of U.S. farms has plummeted nearly 40 percent, from 3.82 million to 2.2 million, due in part to the expansion of large-scale operations and the development of farm land for other uses.

I can continue if you like :)

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