Search International Hotels
TEN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS JOIN LABELING BILL
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) applauded a bill introduced by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) Friday that would require the labeling of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) – the ammonia-treated ground beef filler coined “pink slime” by a former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official.
“Consumers have spoken loud and clear that they don’t want to eat ‘pink slime’,” said Elisabeth Holmes, staff attorney, for the Center for Food Safety. “This bill will ensure that industry responds to consumer concerns by disclosing the true nature of meat products sold to the public, and is no longer allowed to hoodwink Americans,” she added.
LFTB – manufactured by Beef Products Inc. (BPI) – is made by gathering waste trimmings from beef, simmering them at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spinning the mixture in a centrifuge. Next, the filler is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill pathogens like E. coli and salmonella. The product is then molded, frozen, and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is mixed into in an estimated 70 percent of ground beef in the United States.
The Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef Act (REAL Beef Act) would require any beef containing ‘finely textured ground beef’ to have a label at the final point of sale. The bill’s 10 initial co-sponsors include Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jerry Lewis (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)..
BPI, the meat industry and, most recently, governors and USDA officials have defended using ammonia, saying it reduces bacteria. This claim was soundly disputed in 2009 in a Pulitzer-prize winning exposé by the New York Times, which found that ground beef containing LFTB was four times more likely to contain salmonella than other forms of ground meat.
In response to mounting public concern and calls from Rep. Pingree and others in Congress over the use of “pink slime” in school lunches, the USDA said it will offer school districts a choice in purchasing ground beef as part of their federally-subsidized school foods programs, although many questions remain regarding economics and feasibility. Major fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King previously announced they had stopped using “pink slime” in their products. Additionally, the top two supermarket chains in the country – Kroger and Safeway –said they will cease selling ground beef made with the filler nationwide.
“The meat industry remains defiant in its unwillingness to provide full disclosure for its customers,” said Michele Simon, policy consultant with Center for Food Safety. “This bill helps shed light on a process that has remained hidden for far too long.”
For more on “pink slime,” please visit CFS’s website: http://truefoodnow.org/2012/03/14/food-safety-update-pink-slime-a-symptom-of-industrialized-meat/
# # #
The Center for Food Safety is a national, non-profit, membership organization founded in 1997 to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture.