The recent media criticism attributed to “pink slime” is starting to show a definite effect upon the meat industry. Pink slime is technically processed meat filler, composed of bits of fatty meat left over on the bone, then spun to be made lean and treated with ammonia to purge potential bacteria. Known as lean beef trimmings, the backlash against it has already caused Beef Products Inc to cease production at several of their plants and major grocers such as Safeway to ban the product from their stores.
Now ground beef processor AFA Foods is filing for bankruptcy protection as a result of the critical response to have pink slime banned, despite the protests of those who say the product is completely safe to eat. AFA Foods is one of the country’s largest ground beef processors, responsible for producing over 500 million pounds of ground beef per year, and employing about 850 people full-time.
The implications of pink slime on the meat industry may be pretty severe, according to Jeremy Russell of the National Meat Association. “This is certainly going to have an economic impact on the industry”, affecting cattle ranchers, meat processors and thousands of jobs. With ground beef making up a large part of the overall meat market, prices will almost definitely increase.
Many industry leaders and politicians have vocalized their support of lean beef trimmings. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said, “This to me is outrageous. I want to expose the people who are behind this. I don’t think Americans need to be misled by a smear campaign.”
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