Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pink Slime Makes A Comeback

Thanks to record high beef prices, consumers are reconsidering their concerns with "finely textured beef:"
A much-maligned beef product that was once frequently added to hamburger is making a comeback. Two years ago, beef processors cut back sharply on producing what they call "lean, finely textured beef" after the nasty nickname for it, "pink slime," in the media. Now, higher beef prices are leading to increased demand for the product.
To prepare, grocery stores and beef processors are getting ready for a new round of questions from consumers.
Cargill spokesman Mike Martin says the product is 100 percent lean beef trimmings treated with citric acid to kill bacteria. In early 2012, unappetizing pictures made the rounds on social media after ABC News did an investigative report that the processors say frightened consumers into thinking the product was unsafe. And Martin says the reaction was swift.
"Ultimately what happened is consumers contacted retailers. So by the end of March 2012, Cargill's finely textured beef had incurred an 80 percent decrease in volume. We ultimately were forced to close down two of the production sites out of the five we had operating that produced finely textured beef," he says. Beef Products International closed down three plants and laid off more than 700 workers.
But now, Cargill says, sales of the product are up as beef prices are rising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2010, the cost of ground beef averaged $2.25 a pound. Now it's nearly $4 a pound. So grocery stores and food processors, like the makers of lasagna and pasta sauce, are buying more ground beef with the cheaper beef product mixed in.
Personally, I've been surprised that so many people are willing to pay through the nose for organic food, and that so many folks got upset about pink slime.  There's a lot of processed food that is probably made in a way that I don't want to know about, but it tastes good enough for me to eat, and it is astonishingly cheap.  I don't understand why people brag about their purchase of free-range eggs and grass-fed beef and locally sourced vegetables.  I'm sure they are trying to establish their social bona fides, but they just look gullible to this guy.  Oh well, pass me the pink slime.

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