Archive for Friday, March 30, 2012

Brownback, other governors tour beef plant to see ‘pink slime’

March 30, 2012


— Governors of three states got up close with “pink slime” Thursday, touching and examining treated beef at a plant and eating hamburgers made with it in a bid to persuade grossed-out consumers and grocery stores the product is safe to consume.

The three governors and two lieutenant governors spent about a half hour learning about the process of creating finely-textured lean beef in a tour of the main plant that makes the product, then blasted the media for scaring consumers with a moniker coined by critics.

“If you called it finely textured lean beef, would we be here?” asked Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Several other leaders echoed his comments as they tried to smooth over consumer concerns about the product.

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

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

“Why are we here today defending a company that has a rather sterling record dealing with making a food product that is very much needed in this country in a very safe manner? Why are we here today?” Perry said.

The officials 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, viewing and handling more than a dozen slabs of raw meat and the processed, finished product laid out on cutting boards on a round wooden table.

The officials asked about the added ammonia, which Letch said is used as an extra safety precaution against E. coli.

“What we’re doing with ammonium hydroxide is directly targeting those specific microorganisms that could affect human health. It is nothing more than something to ensure consumer safety,” Letch said as the politicians bent over the raw cuts of beef.

The officials donned hard hats, hair nets and goggles for a brief walking tour through the facility.

Workers manned conveyor belts of meat cuts that ran from one side of the room to the other in the chilled room; the ammonium hydroxide treatment process was not visible; plant officials say that’s because it binds with moisture in the meat in an aerated process.

Afterward, Perry, Branstad and others ate burgers made from the plant’s meat at a news conference.

“It’s lean. It’s good. It’s nutritious,” Branstad said as he polished off a patty, sans bun.

Larry Smith, with the Institute for Crisis Management public relations firm, said he’s not sure the makers of the product — including Cargill and BPI — will be able to overcome the public stigma against their product at this point.

“I can’t think of a single solitary message that a manufacturer could use that would resonate with anybody right now,” Smith said.


ThePilgrim 6 years ago

“If you called it finely textured lean beef, would we be here?” asked Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Thoughtspeak? You can call it what you will. On the other hand, Brownback and crew went to the BPI and still the message got skewed by the AP. So the trip was, I say, a total loss, and just adds to the PR nightmare.

LadyJ 6 years ago

That's funny, Brownback using people losing jobs as a reason.

ktbob1954 6 years ago

I TOTALLY agree.....!!! Slimeback should be his name.

Crazy_Larry 6 years ago

Do you ever have anything constructive and/or relevant to add to a discussion? Are you being paid to spend the day flooding local news web-sites with inflammatory partisan language? FYI: You come off like you're still in middle school. Perhaps that is what you're going for...Enough of the stupid gibberish already. Bring something relevant to the table, please.

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