A South Dakota beef company says it plans to close processing plants in three states because of the controversy surrounding a product critics call "pink slime."
Beef Products Incorporated, or BPI, announced this week it will close plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa at the end of the month over what it calls unfounded attacks over its "lean, finely textured beef,” or LFTB. The maligned product is heated and treated with a small amount of ammonia to curtail the growth of pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.
LFTB has been used for years and USDA defends the practice, saying the beef is safe to eat.
Gov. Rick Perry, R – Texas: “When we have these false rumors, that get started they have the potential to take down an entire company, that really hits close to home.”
Governors of three farm states directly impacted by the controversy held a press event back in March aimed at countering negative messages in both social and traditional media. The governors toured BPI’s Nebraska plant, touting the benefits and safety of the beef supplement.
But the efforts appear now to have been in vain. BPI officials said 650 jobs will be lost when it closes its plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo Iowa. The company’s lone surviving plant in South Sioux City, Nebraska, will remain open, but will operate at a reduced capacity.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad called the news “sad,” adding in a statement: “The fact that a false, misleading smear campaign can destroy a company's reputation overnight should disturb us all."
BPI is promoting a website called Beef-Is-Beef-dot-com to disseminate news on the boneless lean beef trimmings.
BPI officials released this statement: “We will continue communicating the benefits of BPI's lean beef, but that process is much more difficult than the campaign to spread misinformation that brought us to this point.”