Lean, Finely-Textured Beef Making a Comeback In Spite of Media Attacks

Rising food prices have driven up demand for the meat media denigrated as ‘pink slime.’

Lean, finely-textured beef (LFTB), commonly referred to by media outlets as “pink slime,” is “back in demand,” according to Yahoo! News.

In 2012, a series of media attacks on LFTB, including several by ABC News, scared grocery stores like Kroger and Safeway and restaurants like McDonald’s away from using the meat product even though it had been safe and approved for use by the USDA for many years.

Now, record high beef prices are creating a comeback for LFTB. Processing company Cargill told The Wall Street Journal its sales had “rebounded sharply from their 2012 lows,” Yahoo reported on Aug. 19.

Beef Products Inc. (BPI), will begin making LFTB in a newly-opened Kansas factory. LFTB is created by spinning fat out of beef scraps in order to use the remaining meat, a process that was invented by BPI, according to Bloomberg.

The uproar over “pink slime” in 2012 forced BPI to close plants and lay off workers in 2012. The company blamed the losses on media attacks on LFTB, and especially the use of the term “pink slime” by ABC. It sued ABC for $1.2 billion. The lawsuit is pending.

But even in the story about the comeback Yahoo! News continued to portray LFTB in a negative light calling it a “dubious meat product,” and turning to Patty Lovera of the left-wing activist group Food & Water Watch. Lovera’s group was benignly called a “consumer advocacy group,” by Yahoo! News.

Lovera claimed that lean, finely-textured beef is a “high risk” meat byproduct, but Bloomberg.com noted in an April 2012 story that BPI’s product had “never been directly linked” to an outbreak of food-borne illness.

Think Progress, a project of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, also noticed the “major comeback” of LFTB. Think Progress also portrayed this news as negative development and complained that the FDA and USDA “have been slow to act against the use of ammonia and other chemicals in food production.” Such chemicals are used in order to prevent dangerous pathogens such as E. coli from spreading. 

— Julia A. Seymour is Assistant Managing Editor for MRC Business at the Media Research Center. Follow Julia A. Seymour on Twitter.