OAKLAND, CA - Today’s announcement by Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) to temporarily suspend production of Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) in three of its four U.S. plants has delivered a significant negative economic blow not only to workers in the beef industry, but to the millions of consumers who enjoy beef every day.
BPI’s move today has resulted in more than 700 workers in Kansas, Texas and Iowa being temporarily laid off, but ultimately impacts more than 3,000 suppliers and others that rely on BPI’s business. Moreover, the ripple effect of this shutdown stands to have a huge impact on everything from farm to fork.
Consumers are already seeing a big increase in the price they pay at the meat case for ground beef and ground beef products because fewer cattle are coming to market. The increases will continue as ground beef producers seek additional sources – many of which will need to come from imported sources – to help deliver the ultra-lean ground beef products (90 percent lean and above) that many consumers demand, particularly heading into the busy summer grilling season. LFTB serves as a primary source of lean high protein which is added to most lean ground beef to produce lean ground beef.
Despite overwhelming support from industry leading food scientists, USDA officials, consumer advocate organizations and esteemed academic institutions across the country – all of whom adamantly support the product as safe, wholesome and nutritious – Lean Finely Textured Beef has been vilified in the media over the past several weeks and given the moniker of “pink slime” in an effort to discredit its safety, quality and value to millions of consumers worldwide.
“At a time when so many Americans struggle to put a healthy, nutritious meal on their family’s dinner table, the unfounded mischaracterization of Lean Finely Textured Beef as ‘pink slime’ is unconscionable,” said Barry Carpenter, CEO of the National Meat Association. “I am sure the public is not aware of how widespread and potentially devastating the consequences of allowing public misperception to trump sound nutritional science are.”
As the primary source of high-quality, safe, pure 100% lean beef protein, LFTB is used in high-demand products such as 90% lean ground beef, which makes up a significant percentage of all ground beef sold in the U.S. today. To meet consumer demand, the depletion of the supply of lean ground beef must be filled somehow, which may require the slaughtering of thousands of additional cattle or importing beef from outside of the U.S.
National Meat Association is a non-profit trade association. Since 1946, NMA has represented meat packers and processors, equipment manufacturers and food suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association has members throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia and Mexico.