Despite Safety Assurances, St Joe Grocers To Quit Selling LFTB/”Pink Slime”

Two grocery chains in St Joseph are responding to the national furor over “pink slime,” or Light Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), and will no longer carry ground beef that contains the product.

Both HyVee and Apple Market are refusing to accept any more ground beef, ground beef patties, or other beef products that contain LFTB, despite assurances from industry leaders and the USDA that the product is safe.

Both companies insist they are responding to the concerns expressed by their customers.  The changeover at large grocery chains and smaller operations across the U.S. will increase the price of burgers everywhere, from 20 to 30 cents per pound, within a couple of weeks.

Brad McAnnally, store operator at the St Joseph HyVee store, says the change will turn the entire ground beef industry, from packers to retailers, upside down within weeks.

“We are going to stop purchasing that kind of beef from our suppliers,” McAnnally said.  “This is a trend going on with all supermarket chains across the country.”

“It just shows you the power of social media, because “pink slime,” the finely textured beef, is not a health risk, but it caught on and all of a sudden the industry needs to change what they are doing.”

Mike Decker, owner/operator of three Apple Market Stores in St Joseph, agrees. His company will also cease offering the products.

“We realize this is not a food safety question,” Decker said. “The reason we’re moving this direction is because of our customers, and their concerns and their wishes.”

Both store operators said the move will raise the price of ground beef from 20 to 30 cents per pound within a couple of weeks.

Both will continue to sell products containing LFTB that are already in the stores, but will no longer purchase new product containing LFTB.

Kroger, the nation’s largest retail grocery chain, announced on Thursday that it would no longer sell the product.  That announcement sent a ripple through the entire grocery industry, which in turn is changing the way meatpackers do business.

After having quietly infiltrated pre-made beef patties in the United States starting in the early 1990s, LFTB hit the public’s radar via the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. The product is in 70% of America’s burger patties.

According to a release on the web site of the American Meat Institute, LFTB is nutritionally equivalent to lean ground beef.  “It is important to recognize that, while some reports have called LFTB an additive or a filler, these terms are absolutely inaccurate,” according to AMI.

“LFTB is simply a beef product that starts with wholesome, inspected trimmings that result when large carcasses are cut into smaller portions. These trimmings can look much like bacon, where fat and lean meat are intertwined. The process used to make LFTB removes the intertwined fat from the lean and the result is a 95 percent lean beef product.”

Officials at Cargill estimate that replacing the Finely Textured Beef produced today would require the raising, feeding and harvesting of 1,500,000 additional head of cattle each year.

In a video posted on the Cargill web site, a company official likens the process to the spinning devices used on his dairy farm to separate milk from cream.