General public still confused about ‘pink slime’

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Consumers are more concerned with staying within budget than avoiding pesticides, added hormones and antibiotics, but a monthly survey shows they continue to be misinformed about the issues.

Animal welfare, GMOs and sustainability endure in discussions about food, but none of the topics gained as much public attention, or had more of an impact in 2013, than LFTB.

Lean finely textured beef, more commonly known to consumers as ‘pink slime,’ gained media attention in regards to food safety and public knowledge about what’s in the U.S. food supply. Concerns about food safety were raised and the beef industry responded, but it seems consumers weren’t convinced or never made an effort to learn about the product.

The December Food Demand Survey by Oklahoma State University asked about LFTB in an online survey of over 1,000 respondents. A True/False section measured their belief of the product.

The statement most people in the survey believed to be true was acknowledging LFTB lowered the price of ground beef. Only a small portion (25%) recognized beef was the only ingredient in LFTB.

Other statements most of the respondents believed to be true are a concern to the beef industry.

Almost 58 percent thought LFTB led to several illnesses in the U.S. and almost 52 percent believe it is unsafe to eat. More than 46 percent of people in the survey thought the product was never approved by the USDA.

Information from is seeking to educate those consumers who are misinformed. The website communicates that LFTB is 100% USDA inspected beef and confirms LFTB is the same beef that’s always been used to make ground beef. The website describes the safe process used to make LFTB and includes a FAQ section.

Most of the consumers are comfortable buying the product, likely because it assists in lowering the costs of ground beef. A second set of questions in the survey found consumers preferred beef without LFTB, but ranked juicy, flavorful beef with LFTB as more desirable than dry, flavorless beef without LFTB at the same price point.

See the survey results.

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