Controversy surrounding the ammonia-treated meat filler, made from scraps of connective tissue and muscle gathered from slaughterhouse floors, has drastically hurt customer interest in all ground beef products, the company said.
“Ongoing media attention has called into question the wholesomeness” of the meat, and has “dramatically reduced the demand for all ground beef products,” said AFA interim CEO Ron Allen, reported Bloomberg.
On March 26, rival pink slime producer Beef Products Inc. (BPI) announced it was suspending production at three of its four plants, NPR reported. But the company will continue to use the “lean beef” trimmings in its meat products.
Pink slime media backlash kicked off when Bettina Siegal, author of the blog TheLunchTray.com, started the online petition “Tell USDA to STOP Using Pink Slime in School Food!” on change.org to raise attention of the United States Drug Administration’s (USDA) former plans to ship meat containing seven million pounds of pink slime to public schools across the nation.
Since then, the USDA has given schools the option to order pink slime-free beef next year. Now school officials must opt between serving either 95 percent lean ground beef with pink slime or fattier ground beef without it, reported MSNBC News. New York City officials announced on March 21 that the city’s public schools would ban all meat containing the filler this fall.
In addition to fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell, many supermarkets have also chosen to stop selling meat products containing pink slime.
While the vast majority of media coverage has given voice to those vehemently opposed to pink slime, more people are coming to its defense. The New York Times’ Andrew C. Revkin explains why he is fine with the industrialized meat product in the blog “Why I’m O.K. with ‘Pink Slime’ in Ground Beef,” referencing Texas Governor Rick Perry’s opinion of the meat filler after his recent tour of BPI. “Let’s call this product what it is and let ‘pink slime’ become a term of the past,” Perry said, reported ABC News.
Similarly, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad noted after a visit to the BPI facilities: “It’s beef, but it’s leaner beef which is better for you. We take this off the market then we end up with a fatter product that’s going to cost more and is going to increase the obesity problem in this country.”
BPI founders contributed $150,000 to Branstad’s campaign in 2010. While Branstand organized the governors’ tour and press conference, he assured ABC News the contribution did not factor into his decision to spearhead the event.