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There is No 'Pink Slime,' Just Beef!
By: Iowa Cattlemen's Association - 03/27/2012

During the last two weeks, the media has given much attention to lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which is being called 'pink slime' in those media reports. LFTB is the product that comes from the process of capturing protein that is in the trim. Those trim pieces are generally 2:1 fat to muscle, and are centrifuged to separate the two so the protein can be used in ground beef and other formed products, such as beef hotdogs.

The process for LFTB was approved by USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service in 1993.

The beef community is working together to answer consumer and media questions relevant to their link in the cattle production, processing and marketing chain. In Iowa, your checkoff dollars have been at work through the Iowa Beef Industry Council, which has contacted the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Education (which is the link to school purchases of ground beef), and other key influencers with facts about LFTB.

The most challenging sector has been meat retailers. Several, such as Hy-Vee, have said they will exclude products with LFTB; while others, such as Walmart will offer their customers the choice of products made without LFTB, noting that both are safe.

As cattle producers, you should be prepared to discuss the issue with those who may ask you about this topic. Here are some key points:

-- Ground beef that includes lean finely textured beef is safe according to independent scientists, safety advocates and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

-- Lean finely textured beef is just that. Beef. When steaks and roasts are cut, it creates the "trim" that becomes ground beef. The companies supplying lean finely textured beef use a process to remove a lot of the fat from some pieces of trim, which is then added to ground beef as a concentrated, lean source of protein.

-- In some cases, a puff of ammonia gas is used to produce LFTB. This reduces the potential for bacterial contamination. FSIS has reviewed and approved this practice as safe.

-- The nutritional profiles of lean finely textured beef and traditional ground beef are nearly identical. LFBT is 90%-to-95% lean and, just like all beef, is a great source of 10 essential nutrients including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.

In discussions you have about this topic, it's important to stay calm, factual, and acknowledge that people should have the choice to know if LFTB is included in the products they buy.

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