Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday joined four other governors from cattle states to go to bat for a ground beef product that critics call "pink slime."
In a joint statement, the governors called lean finely textured beef a nutritious and safe product "backed by sound science."
The governors said inaccurate reports in the media were causing an unnecessary panic among consumers that would hurt the beef industry, result in higher prices at the grocery store and cost thousands of workers their jobs.
"By taking this safe product out of the market, grocery retailers and consumers are allowing media inaccuracies to trump sound science," the statement said. "This is a disservice to the beef industry, hundreds of workers who make their livings producing this safe product and consumers as a whole."
The statement was put out by Brownback, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, on behalf of South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who was on a trade mission in China.
The officials urged grocery retailers and others to keep selling the product.
The product is made from meat cutting scraps that are treated with ammonia to kill bacteria. Lean finely textured beef, or LFTB is found in retail ground beef, low-fat hot dogs, lunch meat, beef sticks and a number of other products. After a public outcry, recently, the USDA said school districts did not have to use the produces in their school lunch programs.
Industry experts and health officials say LFTB is safe but that the product has been plagued by a public relations nightmare. Earlier this week, Beef Products Inc., the main manufacturer and inventor of the filler, suspended production at three of four plants.
In Kansas, the beef industry generates more than $6.5 billion in cash receipts a year. Already, more than 650 workers in Kansas, Texas and Iowa have been temporarily laid off, according to Brownback's office. According to the National Meat Association, as many as 3,000 American jobs will be affected when suppliers are also factored in.