Digging Deeper


Do you want a label on your hamburger?

The red hot debate about so-called “pink slime” has gone political.

Today, in a second day of a showing support for Beef Products Inc., a coalition of politicians from beef-producing states will tour a plant in South Sioux City, Neb.

Beef Products, the maker of what it calls “lean beef trimmings” and its critics call “pink slime, earlier this week announced it would shut down three of its four plants that produce the stuff.

Yesterday, governors and USDA officials came out blasting the media for use of the term “pink slime,” saying the company and its product have been maligned and misjudged and that the process is based on “sound science.” They also reiterated that the product is safe and pointed to the jobs lost at the closed plants. From the group’s statement:

"By taking this safe product out of the market, grocery retailers and consumers are allowing media sensationalism to trump sound science. This is a disservice to the beef industry, hundreds of workers who make their livings producing this safe product, and consumers as a whole."

Most stores, meanwhile, are sticking to their refusal of the product, with the exception of Hy-Vee, based in Iowa, where the politicians held their press conference yesterday. The store announced that it would back off of its ban of the product, saying it would give consumers the option to buy it.

But here’s the big difference in Hy-Vee’s plan: the retailer will now label the ground beef with the product as “Lean Finely Textured Beef,” which is what the meat industry has always called it.

That’s what we’ve wondered about all along: should ground beef treated with ammonia be labeled? Isn’t that what consumers really want to know? Click here to answer our question and share your experience.

We know this is all serious business, but after covering this issue for a couple weeks, we think it’s time for a little humor. Dan Teigen, a Harvest Network source, has one prediction:

"Here's a question: How long until "pink slime" gets rebranded & how will it reappear? My guess - "Puce Silk." And some one in agribusiness will get a big bonus...”

And funnyman Jon Stewart, who did a hilarious send-up with his “best friend,” the cheeseburger, this week, suggested calling it “ammonia-soaked centrifuge separated byproduct paste.

What’s in a name? Should this beef filler be labeled? And if so, what should it be called? Share your thoughts with the Harvest Network.