When times are tough, you do what you can to save money.
NPR reports that two major beef producers, Cargill and Beef Products International (BPI), are currently seeing an uptick in sales of lean, finely-textured beef—also known as “pink slime.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows ground beef prices steadily rising, from $2.28 per lb. in January 2010 to $3.86 per lb. in May 2014. As they rise, grocery stores and manufacturers of processed foods like pasta sauces are both trying to keep shoppers happy. Since lower prices usually equal happier customers, some are opting to put pink slime back on the menu.
According to NPR, not all chains are on board with this plan. For example, Kroger and Supervalu have no plans to bring that infamy back into their meat departments.
Public relations consultant Ronald Hanser sees the issue as one of disclosure, and told NPR:
“If it’s about how a product is treated with a chemical, then be prepared to talk about that. The beef industry wasn’t prepared to do that in the earlier cycle. Hopefully they are much better prepared now.”
Public backlash in 2012 was so great, both Cargill and BPI lost sales in a major way and had to close some of the plants where the product was made. Cargill laid off over 2,000 workers, while BPI laid off more than 700.
JournalStar reports that BPI estimates it lost $400 million alone from this incident. BPI even filed a defamation suit against ABC in the wake of their 2012 investigative report, a case which is currently ongoing.
Cargill spokesman Mike Martin agrees with Hanser about disclosure, and told the JournalStar,
“We found that once [consumers] knew the facts about our product and the USDA-approved process to make it, they were comfortable with finely textured beef in their ground beef.”
They may be right. In the interest of disclosure, Cargill began labeling products with “lean, finely-textured beef” after the story broke. The Hy-Vee grocery chain did the same. If you’re concerned about pink slime showing up at your local store, read labels and ask questions.
[via The Salt]