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Lean Beef Trimmings Are Safe, Says Beef Products, Inc.

Negative publicity about the company's process and the use of the compound ammonium hydroxide, a critical component of the process, is at the heart of Beef Products' recent challenges.

In response to recent media attention on what one former USDA scientist has dubbed "pink slime," Beef Products, Inc. has released the following statement.

DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. (PRNewswire) — At Beef Products, Inc., we produce lean beef from trim.  Trim is the meat and fat that is trimmed away when beef is cut into steaks and roasts.  This lean beef is used in hamburger, sausage, ground beef, and as a valuable ingredient in many other foods. We use a natural compound — called ammonium hydroxide, which is widely used in the processing of numerous foods, such as baked goods, cheeses, gelatins, chocolate, caramels, and puddings — to slightly increase the pH level in beef and improve its safety.

A diverse group of experts who follow food quality and safety, including:

  • John Block, former United States Secretary of Agriculture in Illinois from 1981-1986 and currently Senior Policy Advisor at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC;
  • Chuck Jolley, journalist and president of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame;
  • Keith Nunes, executive editor of Food Business News;
  • Gary Acuff, Ph.D., Professor & AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow, Director, Center for Food Safety, Texas A&M University
  • Nancy Donley, founder of STOP Foodborne Illness and member of the United States Department of Agriculture's National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection;
  • Linda Golodner, former president, National Consumers League
  • Carol Tucker-Foreman, Distinguished Fellow, the Food Policy Institute, Consumer Federation of America and former Assistant Secretary of Agriculture;
  • James Marsden, Ph.D., Regent's Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Security at Kansas State University;
  • Dave Theno, Ph.D., respected food safety consultant;
  • and Bill Marler, the nation's leading foodborne illness attorney,

say these things about BPI and its lean beef:

"The boneless lean beef is made from the same high quality USDA-inspected trimmings as other ground beef."  John Block

"BPI produces a boneless lean beef product from trim that is usually lost. Its primary uses are for hamburger patties, taco meat, chili and sausages.  It has two primary benefits: It's a very low-cost [ingredient] and it is as close to an absolutely safe product as humanly possible to produce."  Chuck Jolley  

"Negative publicity about the company's process and the use of the compound ammonium hydroxide, a critical component of the process, is at the heart of Beef Products' recent challenges. This is distressing, because ammonium hydroxide was designated as 'generally recognized as safe' for use in food by the Food and Drug Administration in 1974 and it has been used as a leavening agent in baked foods as well as a way to manage the pH in many types of food products since then. In 2001, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the regulatory arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that regulates the U.S. meat and poultry industry, approved the use of ammonium hydroxide as a food safety tool."  Keith Nunes

[The video depicting use of household ammonia with ground beef] "is a terrible misrepresentation" . . . "I'm glad they use it [ammonium hydroxide] because anything that can help improve the safety of the product is certainly a product that will be on my table." Gary Acuff

"We are encouraged to see a company like BPI taking the bull by the horns and independently test for these killer pathogens before being required by government, but we need the entire industry involved and that will only happen when government mandates it."  Nancy Donley

"I have been to many factories many plants in my career at the National Consumers League.  BPI is an outstanding plant; when you go in you go through a room where the air is actually cleaned, it's an amazing plant."  Linda Golodner

"Eldon Roth of Beef Products, Inc., who just won the Beef Industry Vision Award, has been extraordinarily creative in developing ways to protect consumers from pathogens in meat."  Carole Tucker-Foreman

"[A]ll kinds of ingredients in food products that can be falsely characterized as unappetizing when viewed out of context. . . . BPI made great strides in improving the safety of ground beef through their unique food safety processes." James Marsden

[Criticism of BPI] "is so far off base, it's just incredible."  Dave Theno  

"BPI has demonstrated a commitment to food safety. I see it as a big step in the right direction."  Bill Marler

Beef Products, Inc. is the world's leading producer of lean beef processed from fresh beef trimmings. BPI® Boneless Lean Beef, is approximately 94% lean beef, and made with great attention to food safety and quality.

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