Amid the growing outcry over so-called “pink slime” beef product, three U.S. governors are stepping up to defend the controversial meat.
The trio of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, all of whose states have been affected by the backlash against the beef, joined together Thursday for a tour of a Beef Products Inc.’s operating plant in South Sioux City, Neb.
The plant, one of the four responsible for the production of the meat, is currently the only one in operation. The other three plants, in Texas, Kansas and Iowa, have been temporarily shut down.
“I do not believe workers in plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas should wonder why they don’t have a job because of misleading headlines,” Branstad said at a news conference after the tour.
“Let’s call this product what it is. And let pink slime become a term of the past,” Gov. Perry told the media, chastising the media for their supposed misrepresentation of the beef.
The beef itself is officially called “lean finely textured beef,” a much more appetizing-sounding title than the “pink slime” name granted to it by its critics. Comprised of the fatty remnants of other cuts of meat, it’s treated with ammonium hydroxide to alter the meat’s toxicity and eliminate bacteria.
Due to the campaign against the meat, supermarkets such as Kroger Co., Safeway and Supervalu have declared they will no longer carry the product, McDonald's and Taco Bell will stop serving it up and many school districts nationwide have since stricken it from the menu.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has consistently given the product the thumbs-up for more than 20 years, going so far as permitting its use in school lunch programs. But the campaign against it is showing no signs of slowing down, and it may take more than a gubernatorial vote of confidence to bring the beef back onto the nation’s plates.