Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just The Facts

The Facts About Lean Finely Textured Beef
by The American Meat Institute

The above link to a five minute video is an excellent, credible source for the "debate" on lean finely textured beef, odiously nicknamed 'Pink Slime' by news media. It is from the American Meat Institute. Everyone should take the time to review it - only five minutes of one's life to get informed.

This week nearly a thousand workers in the BPI plants lost their jobs because of media lies and misinformation. Businesses that support BPI and their workers, (a leader in food safety interventions for meat products), are suffering along with them. And Americans will pay the price for this. Beef prices will climb steeply, and the product replacing this will be less safe.

In major news stories this week in the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, this product was characterized as "filler" made from "scraps ordinarily processed into pet food". Both of these are completely untrue. It is not a filler, it's just ground beef, made from the trimmings of mechanically cut steaks and roasts. Meat that's closer to the fat and thus more difficult to get at. It would take a surgeon's skills to do so, in fact. But years ago BPI figured out how to utilize this good meat by heating it slightly and putting it in a centrifuge. This spins off (literally) the fat and leaves pure lean beef trimmings. It's the same beef trimmings used in ALL ground beef. Not destined for your pet's dish, but your barbecue.

USDA and industry biologists and food safety experts have said this meat is safe for consumption and just as nutritious as any ground meat product. Any. BPI, as a leader in food safety interventions has added a step in the processing of lean beef trim - a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas, that dissipates, leaving only ground beef, virtually free of pathogens like E-coli 0157H7 and salmonella that are present in ANY ground meat product.

Chef Jamie Oliver ran a much discussed segment about school lunches, completely mischaracterizing the processing of this meat by dumping an industrial cleaning agent over a tub of ground meat and saying that is what happens to school lunch ground beef in processing. NOTHING could be further from the truth. That he is cited in some articles as having to do with any food safety debate is laughable. He is just a chef entertainer, looking for viewers with sensationalistic antics that are both irresponsible and complete misrepresentations. Using the incendiary moniker "pink slime" is equally disturbing, presenting an impression that the product is substandard or unsafe. It is neither.

Americans do not understand how their food is processed and what food safety interventions and innovations have been put in place to protect them. If they did, this lean beef trim brouhaha would have never been a story or blown up in the media to begin with. When the average shopper enters their local grocery chain and sees a neatly wrapped pound of ground beef, or chicken breasts, sausages, or any meat protein, they never think about what it took to get that into their hands in that package. If they did, they wouldn't eat most of the things in the grocery store. That food processing is "icky" is true. However, it's necessary. We the growing population must be fed, and there are companies out there such as Beef Products, Inc. that really care about the safety of what they bring to market. In over 300 BILLION servings made of their product, NEVER ONCE has there been an issue with food borne illness. Never. Pretty impressive. That's the kind of meat I want to serve my family.

Get educated. Watch the video attached to this post - an EXCELLENT AND ACCURATE depiction of what lean finely textured meat really is. And don't listen or read all the sensationalistic articles. Get the facts first. Then ask for LFTB at your grocer. It's the safe stuff.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Food Safety Should Be Media Priority

In the last week or two, a story has gained traction in the media and blogosphere about lean finely textured beef. A disgruntled former FDA inspector labeled this product "pink slime", as did whack job "chef" Jaime Oliver - a term that is unfair, irresponsible and completely inaccurate. ABC News picked up this story and ran with it, saying that the public should be aware of "pink slime in our meat". They called it a beef filler. They called it slime, which is a completely derogatory term. It is neither.

This is what it is. Ground beef from meat trimmed from other cuts of meat that are mechanically trimmed like steaks and roasts. Mechanical trimming cannot harvest all of the meat. What is left is still the same steak, roast and other cuts of meat we all ordinarily consume. So a beef company in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, Beef Products, Inc. found a way to separate this good meat from the fat attached to it by heating it slightly and using a centrifuge to spin off (in effect) the fat. The resulting product is extremely lean beef trimmings. Not gristle. Not connective tissue. Not the scrapings "from the floors of slaughterhouses", as some horrible blogs and news reports have characterized it. Just good cuts of beef and beef only. And this company went a step further with the product. Before freezing these trimmings they apply a puff of ammonium hydroxide GAS to it, (that dissipates) which raises the PH of the product and effectively kills harmful bacteria such as E-coli and Salmonella that thrive in acid bases but not in alkali. This makes these lean beef trimmings safer to use and consume. Ammonia is a naturally occurring substance in meat, and in our own bodies too. Applying it as a gas to meat does not alter the nutritional content. It's still the same beef as before when it was trimmed away from those steaks and roasts and other cuts of meat. To say otherwise is a misrepresentation. Period. And it tastes great because all it is, is beef. And this is not the only product that uses it. There is more in your bun, condiments and cheese than that meat. And WHY is this a controversy?

Not resting on merely the innovation of applying the gas that kills pathogens, BPI decided to test every box before shipping them to consumers to be certain they were pathogen free. In fact, not only do they test for 0157H7 (E-Coli), but the other six types identified as potentially dangerous. They are one of the ONLY beef companies to do this. They hold the product in refrigeration and do not release it until there is confirmation of its safety. Now I don't know about you, but this seems like two great steps to insure that the ground beef that I am eating is safe to consume. This innovative company should be lauded and praised for their continuing devotion to food safety. MOST are not this fastidious. Fast food chains, grocery store chains and consumers should not be wringing their hands and running from this. To the contrary...it's making your beef safer.

I have toured that plant. It is pristine. Every detail is attended to, ensuring the safety and security of their product. The owner proudly has given tours to visiting media, explaining how their innovations are making beef safer to eat - particularly for the physically vulnerable - children and the aged. But it appears that some visitors went in and had a different agenda. FoodNet put up a video after touring BPI that was completely misleading, showing (for instance) a window with rushing water, which they depicted as ammonia, which it absolutely was NOT. It was water. Only water - used to sanitize THE AIR in the plant. I've seen it. There were other mischaracterizations too, since picked up by major news agencies and reported as if they were true. Reporting with NO regard for truth, economic impacts, or food safety. All in the name of a sensationalistic "story".

And so the "pink slime" scare became viral. And as a result, major grocers like Safeway, etc have "chosen not to sell beef with pink slime in it." Really? There is NO SUCH THING as pink slime. But they pulled out of BPI's product just the same, just this week. All of them, forcing a great company to scramble to explain to an ignorant public that they themselves had been slimed by the media. Thousands will now lose jobs. Meat will become less safe and fattier to eat. (Mixing LFTB into ground beef not treated lowers the fat content, also a good thing for our hearts and bodies.) Towns supported by the plants will suffer economic hardships of epic proportion. All over incendiary, inaccurate, irresponsible reporting by ABC News, and in turn all the other news organizations. And I cannot for the LIFE of me understand how this happened, and why the public bought the story hook, line and sinker. Is the public really this stupid? How many other things does our media "feed" us as gospel that are also out-and-out lies?

The beef industry has been dealt an unfair blow. BPI has been slaughtered but good by the liberal media and this frenzy, and for NOTHING. Food safety has been set back 20 years or more. And the countless businesses that work with these fine plants are now either going to close or suffer tremendous economic hardship. Unless the grocers and the public are informed that they have been duped and scared into abandoning a very good, safe, inexpensive, nutritious product. Duped by left-wing "foodies" with an agenda.

Wake up America. Don't believe media hype and hysteria. Research the facts. Then decide without causing panic. And don't be afraid to eat ground beef that may or may not contain lean finely textured beef. Because it's the same as ALL ground beef. Cook it to 180 degrees. Never eat med, med rare or rare ground beef (or ground chicken, turkey, etc). Come to think of it, ask your grocer if they carry ground beef that DOES contain LFTB in it. And know that if they do, that's the stuff that is the MOST safe to eat. You WANT that stuff. It may be pink(ish), but it isn't slime and it's an abomination that it's been characterized as such.

These "news" groups and bloggers want to put BPI out of business, and are trying, really really hard to do it. WHY is a mystery. Definitely based on misinformation and lies, for sure. Is it because their owner supports a republican frontrunner? Something to think about, since all the hoohah and lies have come from the left. Don't let this stream of misinformation and lies happen. DEMAND that grocers stock ground beef WITH LFTB, because pulling it off shelves is sending us all down a very slippery slope of higher prices, less safe product and economic distress. Shame on you grocery chains for not defending this product. If it's pulled out of school lunch programs it will be a disaster and will expose our children to much higher food risks - even as bad as death. Read "In Defense of Food Safety Leadership" on http://www.foodsafetynews.com.

Stand up and fight, people. Get informed. For real.