Governor Rick Perry and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples recently toured a Nebraska plant that makes lean finely textured beef, the meat product now known as "pink slime", and to defend the food item thats been part of the American diet for 20-years. Perry and Staples were concerned about the effects criticism of the product could have on the Texas beef industry. Mindy Brashears, professor of food safety and public health at Texas Tech University, shares that same concern:
"It's estimated that its going to take about 1.4 million animals each year, to replace the ground beef lost in the market. And whenever you take that out of your food supply and essentially you throw it away, then the cost of ground beef, whether it be at food service or in the grocery store, will actually have to increase to compensate for that product's loss, its no longer being used."
She says criticism of the beef product centered on an amonium hydroxide treatment that is used to kill bacteria:
"The media originally painted this as household amonia. Well, most people don't realize there's amonia in our bodies. Its in many many of the foods we consume you know, its nothing negative, and it actually makes the product safer. And so, its 100 percent beef, its a high quality wholesome product, but the information that reached the consumer was that it was really bad and negative and so, unfortunately the damage has been done."
"People I think, felt rightly somewhat deceived, when they had picked up a package that said 100% ground beef, they were getting something different. And I think, had the company and the industry been forthcoming about this product from day one, we wouldn't have seen the sort of backlash that we saw in the last month."
She adds it comes down to disclosure and consumer choice.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.