‘Slime’ ma­ligned un­fairly, pols say

Gov­er­nors see pro­cess­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY KRISTI EA­TON

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEB. | Gov­er­nors of three states donned coats, hair­nets and gog­gles to tour a main pro­duc­tion plant for “pink slime” Thurs­day, hop­ing to per­suade wary con­sumers and gro­cery stores to ac­cept that the pro­cessed beef prod­uct with the off-putting nick­name is as safe as the in­dus­try in­sists.

Three gov­er­nors and two lieu­tenant gov­er­nors spent about a half-hour tour­ing Beef Prod­ucts Inc.’s plant to show their sup­port for the com­pany and the thou­sands of jobs it cre­ates in Ne­braska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.

“It’s beef, but it’s leaner beef, which is bet­ter for you,” Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad said af­ter watch­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion of how the tex­tured beef prod­uct is made and tak­ing a walk­ing tour of the plant.

Beef Prod­ucts, the main pro­ducer of the cheap lean beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts, has drawn ex­tra scru­tiny be­cause of con­cerns about the am­mo­nium hy­drox­ide it treats meat with to ad­just the acid­ity of the beef and kill bac­te­ria. The com­pany sus­pended op­er­a­tions at plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa this week, af­fect­ing 650 jobs be­cause of plung­ing de­mand, but it de­fends its prod­uct as safe.

While the of­fi­cial name is lean finely tex­tured beef, crit­ics dub it “pink slime” and say it’s an un­ap­pe­tiz­ing ex­am­ple of in­dus­tri­al­ized food pro­duc­tion. That term was coined by a dis­gusted fed­eral mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist, but the prod­uct meets fed­eral food safety stan­dards and has been used for years.

The politi­cians who toured the plant Mr. Branstad, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Kansas Gov. Sam Brown­back, Ne­braska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy and South Dakota Lt. Gov. Matt Michels — en­dorse the in­dus­try view that the beef prod­uct has been un­fairly ma­ligned and mis­la­beled and is­sued a joint state­ment ear­lier say­ing the prod­uct is safe.

The of­fi­cials — all Repub­li­cans — spent about 20 min­utes go­ing over the pro­duc­tion process in a sep­a­rate room at the plant with Craig Letch, the com­pany’s di­rec­tor of qual­ity as­sur­ance, see­ing ex­am­ples of the raw pieces of beef next to the pro­cessed, un­frozen fin­ished prod­uct.

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