July 29, 2014

After Pink Slime Hubbub, Cargill To Label Finely Textured Beef

ground_beef_260pxAfter the brouhaha surrounding “pink slime” last year, Cargill Inc. has decided to label meat containing its own version of the product called Finely Textured Beef.  In 2014, Cargill beef products containing the product will be labeled “Contains Finely Textured Beef.”

Finely Textured Beef and its competitor Lean Finely Textured Beef- dubbed pink slime,  are made by extracting beef from beef trimmings that would otherwise be thrown away or used for pet food and treating them with an antibacterial.  That meat, which is 95 percent lean, is mixed with beef trim to create 73% to 96% ground beef. Cargill uses citric acid to kill the bacteria, Beef Products Inc. uses ammonia.  Consumers, many of whom were  concerned about the antimicrobial process,  wanted beef containing the product to be labeled.

“We’ve listened to the public, as well as our customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labeling Finely Textured Beef,” said John Keating, Cargill Beef president, in a statement. The company,  which has been producing Finely Textured Beef since 1993, has created a website about the product that includes videos showing how it is made.

The meat industry has been slow to adopt vaccines and other measure that prevent pathogens such as E.coli and Salmonella from contaminating meat, so processors use a variety of chemicals to kill potentially lethal bacteria. While it sounds gross to some people, it serves a purpose according to some food safety advocates including Nancy Donley, who co-founded the consumer advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness in 1993 after her child was fatally poisoned by a tainted fast food burger.


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