A Media Food Scare that Costs Jobs, Increases Prices, and Risks Making Food Less Safe

There have been a slew of news stories recently, led by ABC News, concerning what they have repeatedly called “pink slime” that blend with a variety of packaged beef products.

The reports have been typically sensationalistic and have driven a public scare campaign that has led to a small number of loud voices forcing supermarkets to stop carrying products containing the beef, which in turn has caused a number of beef processing plants to close down, eliminating the jobs therein.

To hear the reports, one would think that some dangerous, radioactive material has insidiously found its way into our food and has threatened consumers.  But what the media hype is missing, of course, is a sober look at the facts.

The truth is that the product in question is in fact is 100% beef that is 95% lean beef that is used to make fattier hamburger leaner and healthier.  What the product is actually called is Lean Finely Textured Beef.  And the process that makes LFTB helps reduce the potential for harmful bacteria to grow.

Just a few years ago, the Washington Post did a story about the company that pioneered the use of LFTB, praising the methods by which they were improving food safety.

But that is not as exciting, it seems, as creating a scare campaign against an approved product that has been used in billions of servings consumed in American families dining rooms as well as in restaurants.

If not were not enough, this recent bout of media hysteria is costing jobs, is driving up prices for consumers, and ultimately, could very well result in beef that is less safe.