From the Ground Up - Lean Finely Textured Beef

There’s been a recent controversy over a product called lean finely textured beef, a product that’s been consumed for the last twenty years, but some inaccurate reporting coupled with the fact that it didn’t look the way people thought it would when it first came out in public created quite a stir.

“He’s developed a process for increasing the safety of the product, and he recovers about ten to twelve pounds of beef, lean beef, that from a carcass that was not being used effectively before.”

Gary Acuff is the director of Texas A&M’s Center For Food Safety and says the controversy began in 2008 when the president of a company that produced the lean finely textured beef product let the producers of the movie Food Inc. film inside his plant.

“And when they put it in the movie it was a totally different deal. They had this ominous music in the background, and they show Eldon in his control room like he’s sort of an evil controller, and then they show this port hole into their air cleansing system, and when they do that they talk about how the beef is washed in ammonia. Well, that’s not the process and it totally misrepresents it.”

Then about three years later the product and the process was again misrepresented on the Food Network.

“He went over to the kitchen counter and pulled out a jug of ammonia cleanser and then poured it in on the ground beef and ground it up again and said this is what we’re serving our kids in school lunches, and now you have sort of a base group of people who are looking at that saying hey this is awful.”

Recently the national media picked up the story.

“ABC News picked it up about a month or two ago, and started running stories about it, and calling it pink slime, and you know once the social media picked it up, and it has a catchy name that’s derogatory to go with it, and people don’t know what it is, it didn’t take long for that to become a major fear factor and go viral. It’s just beef.”

Beef being mixed with beef doesn’t sound like a very radical idea. I’m Bob French, tracing the journey of food makes from the farm or ranch to our tables, From The Ground Up.