SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The company that makes so called pink slime - Beef Products Incorporated - is suspending operations at three of its four plants. Officials say demand is down because so many grocery stores have stopped selling meat that has the product in it. However, company officials say they plan to bring the product back after they have a chance to explain their side of the story.
For the past two weeks - it has been the subject of discussion and thousands of newscasts - including here on ABC 4 News. Most people were surprised to learn the product was in all kinds of ground beef. That discovery lead to all kinds of concerns for supermarkets and school district cafeterias.
Beef Products Inc. makes the produce and is launching a two month long public relations program designed to restore confidence in the product. Regina Roth, from Beef Products Inc. says, the product is made with beef. "What should we label it? It's 100 percent beef. what do you want us to label it? I'm not prepared to say its anything other than beef, because its 100 percent beef."
BPI blames news organizations - like ABC News and social media bloggers for what officials call a misrepresentation of the product, and the process in which it is made. Blogger Bettina Elias Siegel of The Lunch Tray says, "The last thing I want is for people to lose their jobs, but I do think consumers have every right to know what they're eating and I think it needs to be labeled."
Critics say the process includes using ammonia gas to make meat scraps safe to eat. And they say that fact should be on the label of ground beef that includes the slime. In fact, Gerald Zirnstein - a former USDA scientist says despite company claims - it is not the same as ground beef. He recommends not eating it and he adds the nutritional value is not the same as ground beef. "Its not fresh ground beef, it's a cheap substitute being added in."
It may not be the same, but it until two weeks ago it was certainly consumed along with a lot of beef. Estimates are that 70 percent of grocery stores in the U.S. were selling ground beef with the additive in it. But after all the stories started coming out - stores started backing away from the beef product, including the nation's top grocery chains like Safeway, Krogers and Smiths.
Despite what is being said about pink slime - the USDA says the product is safe to eat. However, since all the stories came out - it has changed its policy and now requires that it is identified in beef the government provides for school cafeterias.
Source: ABC News