retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Sioux City Journal reports that “governors of the three states where Beef Products Inc. idled plants Monday have pledged to work together to help the company refute rumors and misconceptions about its lean boneless beef.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said yesterday that “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Texas Gov. Rick Perry accepted his invitation to join him on a tour of BPI's plant in South Sioux City on Thursday. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, who has a scheduling conflict that day, plans to send Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy to the event, which will be open to local, state and national media.

“By giving reporters a firsthand look at BPI's technology, processing and product, organizers hope to change the tenor of the two-week-old debate over BPI's Lean Finely Textured Beef, which critics have maligned with an unappetizing term.”

BPI said earlier this week that it was suspending operations at three plants that manufacture the Lean Finely Textured Beef, which has become known as Pink Slime and come under attack because it was used as a filler in many packages of ground beef and not labeled, creating questions about transparency. The company has said that it will try to change consumer perception about Lean Finely Textured Beef over the next two months, but that if it is not successful it will be forced to close the plants permanently.
KC's View:
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” did a great - and really funny - job looking at the Pink Slime controversy last night, and you can see it here. (His conclusion seems to be that Pink Slime probably isn’t the worst thing we’ve been putting in our bodies...)

It strikes me that there are a number of things going on here. There are questions being asked about what exactly this filler is, especially since it is washed with ammonia gas (for reasons of killing off foodborne illnesses). There are questions about transparency. And there certainly issues about how companies can and should deal with controversies fueled by social media.

As I think about it, here are the questions I need to get answers to.

How come the ground beef I’ve been buying from Stew Leonard’s for the past 28 years has never contained, according to the retailer, any Pink Slime? Does that mean it has been better than the stuff being sold that has contained it? Less safe? More nutritious? More or less expensive?

In the end, how come some retailers have sold meat without it?