One week has passed since 30 members of Congress sent a joint letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for an explanation of what the USDA has done to correct what the representatives described as widespread misinformation about lean finely texture beef, also known as “LFTB” or “pink slime.”
Vilsack has mentioned the letter in at least one public appearance, thanking the delegation for joining the USDA in defending the use of beef trimmings in mainstream food products. But there has been no publicized, official response from the secretary or the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service — the agency that regulates the meat industry.
The April 18 letter said a misinformation and smear campaign against LFTB has recklessly stifled demand for the product, caused job losses and will lead to higher consumer prices for beef. The House members wrote to Vilsack that the attacks against the quality of LFTB are coming from “a few overzealous individuals in the media.”
LFTB is ammonia-treated beef particles captured from beef scraps via centrifuge. Butchers have traditionally used the inexpensive product as a filler in ground beef. The ammonia treatment kills any pathogens.
“LFTB is 100 percent beef, safe and cost effective,” the joint letter said. “LFTB is a safe product and should be promoted as such.”
The representatives who signed the letter praised BPI, a company known for innovations in the food industry and for producing LFTB as an economical and safe food choice. They said they wanted to know specifically what the Food Safety and Inspection Service was doing to “correct the public record” and educate consumers about LFTB.
Various consumer groups and food activists have rallied against LFTB this year as chemically treated junk meat. With the attacks sprouting all over social media platforms, USDA was forced to defend its support of LFTB as a safe school lunch option. But the agency also acknowledged the public pressure by giving schools the option of purchasing ground beef made without “pink slime.”
Since then and since the 30 House member wrote their letter to Vilsack, there have been no more official pronouncements from USDA on the merits of demerits of LFTB.