CattleFax is estimating that the uproar over Lean Finely Textured Beef, which has been termed "pink slime", is costing the U.S. beef industry $15 to $20 per head in lost value. Furthermore, if this source of lean beef isn't utilized in the domestic pipeline Kevin Good of CattleFax says there will be a higher cost of ground beef that consumers will have to pay.
Taking the impact on consumers a step further, Oklahoma State University Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel says the rejection of LFTB could contribute to the demise of the dollar menu at fast food hamburger chains. Peel says it will also result in increased imports of lean beef. With the concern about rising food prices, growing global food demand and food security he says we must use beef products in the most efficient manner possible. To avoid these consequences, Peel says consumers need to look at the science and get past the distasteful name for a perfectly healthy product.
It's being reported that in an effort to inform consumers, several companies intend to voluntarily label beef products that contain LFTB. USDA Food and Nutrition Service Communications Coordinator Aaron Lavallee says processors will soon begin incorporating labels into their product packaging, as USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service is not anticipating a delay for approval.
USDA notes retail labeling of beef products containing LFTB has been an option for more than a decade, ever since it was first included in ground beef products. A voluntary statement indicating ground beef does or does not contain LFTB is considered a claim and must be verified for accuracy before used on product labeling. Federal meat inspectors will ensure the accuracy of LFTB labels using the existing review process for documentation and monitoring of production at processing facilities.
This decision from USDA comes as Congress is considering legislation to require labeling of any beef containing finely textured ground beef.