Welcome to Iowa – The Pink Slime State
Governor Terry Branstad and other leaders from beef producing states are coming to the defense of finely textured beef, better known as pink slime. On Thursday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and lieutenant governors from Nebraska and South Dakota joined Branstad in touring Beef Products Incorporated (BPI), a maker of the controversial beef product.
The outrage over the use of adding the “pink slime” to ground beef began with Jamie Oliver, a well-known TV personality who has launched a campaign against processed foods being used in school lunches. Oliver’s show on pink slime sent shockwaves around the county. The widely used product was pulled from many supermarkets and fast food chains.
On Monday, BPI shut down operations at three of its plants, including one in Waterloo. The temporary shut downs have caused more than 650 people to be temporarily laid off. The National Meat Association has stated that as many as 3,000 American jobs will be affected when suppliers are also factored in.
BPI and leaders from beef producing states are now pushing back. A Branstad press release from earlier this week read, “Lean finely textured beef is a 100% beef, 95% lean, nutritious, safe, quality and affordable beef product eaten by Americans for 20 years. The production and food safety technologies employed to make lean finely textured beef are USDA-approved, and it is produced in USDA-inspected meat processing facilities.”
Already the actions from Branstad and other leaders are making an impact. Last week, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Grocery stores said that they would no longer carry products that contained the product because of public outcry. This week, they have reversed course and will now offer the product, but will label products that contain it.
I understand the need for Branstad and other Midwest leaders to stand up and support agricultural products that are produced in their states, but is it necessary to step in and personally vouch for and stand behind one particular product? Last time I checked, most Republicans believed in something called the free market. If people don’t want their kids eating products that contain finely textured beef, that’s their prerogative.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the pro-pink slime crowd is going beyond just saying the product is safe. Governor Branstad is encouraging schools to continue to use the product. His actions might have also convinced the folks at Hy-Vee to reconsider pulling the product. I understand why Branstad and others feel like this is a smear campaign, but at the end of the day, it’s the consumer who dictates to the market not the other way around.
I find it a little odd that on one hand, we dictate to schools what products can be placed in vending machines on school grounds due to health concerns, but on the other hand, school and government officials are outraged when parents don’t want their kids eating products that contain pink slime.
Below is the Jamie Oliver video from last April that created the outrage over pink slime. It’s a stretch to call it a smear campaign. In fact, I think he did a good job explaining the process. The real problem is that people thought ground beef was just that, ground beef. Not animal fat, connective tissue, and other parts of the animal.
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