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A Meaty Subject

‘Pink Slime’ and the law of unintended consequences.

1:07 PM, Apr 12, 2012 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Hard to believe the frenzy over pink slime began only last month, when food-activist and blogger Bettina Siegel posted a petition at the website on March 6 asking for schools to ban the use of LFTB. The petition then took a life of its own, with other activists getting involved, ultimately leading to the changes mentioned above and possibly more to come from Congress. The petition itself garnered more than 250,000 signatures.

The meat companies, however, are fighting back. BPI actually created a website, But even Andrew Revkin of the Dot Earth blog at the New York Times is willing to admit that LFTB “is indeed beef—a source of low-fat nutrition.” He goes on to explain that since “we’re not going to a meat-free society any time soon, and that kids need cheap sources of low-fat protein, I’d like those pushing the ‘yuck’ factor to consider the extra 1.5 million or so head of livestock that will need to be slaughtered to fill the ground beef gap.”

In addition, BPI was recently defended by Nancy Donley, a food safety activist whose son Alex died a horrific death in 1993 because of E. coli-tainted meat. “There has been a lot of misinformation swirling around the Internet and on TV about lean beef trim produced by Beef Products, Inc.,” she writes. “As I stated earlier, I have personally visited their plant and the categorization of calling their product ‘pink slime’ is completely false and incendiary. Consumers need to understand that this product is meat, period, and that the use of ammonia hydroxide in minute amounts during processing improves the safety of the product and is routinely used throughout the food industry.”

But the backlash to the backlash may be too little, too late. Pink slime is probably on its way out. Companies will lay off more workers. More cows will be slaughtered. The price of beef will likely rise. The Wall Street Journal quotes food-industry consultant Phil Lempert, who said “‘the fight is over’ and that the next step for the beef industry is experimentation with other types of filler.”

Other types of filler? Just remember, “Soylent Green is people!”

Victorino Matus is a senior editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

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