The South Dakota-based company said the decision was “a direct reaction to all the misinformation about our lean beef” and could become “a permanent suspension”. The affected plants are in Texas, Kansas and Iowa. BPI said 700 staff had been temporarily laid off, and that the move might ultimately impact over 3,000 suppliers. Its largest plant in Nebraska remains in operation.
National Meat Association (NMA) CEO Barry Carpenter said: “At a time when so many Americans struggle to put a healthy, nutritious meal on their family’s dinner table, the unfounded mischaracterisation of LFTB as ‘pink slime’ is unconscionable. I am sure the public is not aware of how widespread and potentially devastating the consequences of allowing public misperception to trump sound nutritional science are.”
Last week, two major US retailers, Safeway and Supervalu, stopped buying ground beef containing LFTB in response to a consumer outcry on the product. Earlier, fast-food chains McDonald’s and Burger King also committed to stop serving products containing LFTB.
Despite insisting on the fact that LFTB is safe for consumption, the US Department of Agriculture addressed consumer fears by giving schools the right to opt out of serving meals with the controversial product, starting in September.
The campaign against the product, obtained by heating and centrifuging beef trimming to separate the meat from the fat, then sprayed with ammonium hydroxide for food safety, started last year when UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver claimed the trimmings are normally destined to pet food and would be unfit for human consumption without this process.