Branstad Stands Up For Pink Slime
According to a report from the Associated Press, on Monday, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad called for a congressional investigation into what he sees as a smear campaign against pink slime, the beef-based food additive properly known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB) or boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT), which may be added to ground beef and beef-based processed meats as an inexpensive filler.
Pink slime is made by heating up fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and then spinning it to remove most of the fat. This lean mix is then compressed into blocks for use in ground beef and treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill harmful bacteria.
Beef Products, the South Dakota-based company that makes the product, announced last week that, amid public outcry, it will cease pink slime production at plants in Iowa, Kansas, and Texas. It is not known how widespread the product is - one industry official estimated that pink slime was in at least half of burgers and ground meat in the U.S., and past estimates have gone as high as seventy percent.
A recent report on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's buying of meat that included pink slime for school lunches prompted Hettina Siegel, the Houston-based author of the kids' food blog "The Lunch Tray", to start an online petition asking Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, to stop the use of pink slime in school food. The USDA also announced last month that, beginning this fall, it would allow schools to choose ground beef that did not contain the additive. Governor Branstad said he raised the issue with Vilsack, who is a former Iowa governor, and suggested an inquiry to Representatives Steve King and Leonard Boswell.
Reports released over the weekend showed that top executives and workers at Beef Products' gave $820,750 to presidential and congressional candidates over the last ten years, with all but $28,400 of that going to Republicans. Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Branstad, who is a Republican, said that the Governor received $150,00 over the last two years from people connected to Beef Products.
At his weekly news conference, Branstad said “We have a smear campaign going on against a product that is healthy and safe. If they get by with this, what other food products are they going to attack next?” Last week, Branstad went on the attack, speaking about the issue and touring a Nebraska meat processing plant with governors from Texas and Kansas and lieutenant governors from Nebraska and South Dakota. Branstad said “It's clear this is a safe product. It's a lean product, it helps reduce obesity and there is a spurious attack being levied against it by some groups. You can suspect who they might be. They are people who do not like meat.” Branstad has also asked students at Iowa agricultural colleges to use social media “to counter what Hollywood and the media elites and the people who are spreading this misinformation are doing.” He concluded “It's their future that's being threatened by this.”
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