State budgetary crises seem to be a remnant of the past and local governments are apparently no longer associated with inefficiencies and waste. Obviously, our political heroes have already determined the best means of developing local communities, successfully created jobs and reduced unemployment, significantly improved local schools, addressed childhood obesity and crafted an intricate plan to pay for the rising costs of health care. They’ve served their constituents, overcome the challenges and are now bravely seeking a new campaign.
So, no longer content to merely revel in their success, local government leaders are now promoting the consumption of lean finely textured beef, thereby touting the benefits of “pink slime” and discouraging further public outcry against the widespread use of the filler.
As we’ve already learned – in no small part because this story just won’t die – lean finely textured beef, commonly known as pink slime, consists of fatty beef scraps and connective tissue that originate from those parts of cows that are highly susceptible to contamination due to their exposure to considerable amounts of feces. Producers wash the scraps with ammonia hydroxide to remove Salmonella and E. coli and other pathogens. After treatment, the parts are spun in a centrifuge, thereby transforming the product into a pink gelatinous mass that is used as a filler in commercial and retail meat products.
Information relating to the use of the pink slime has been shrouded in secrecy for years, in no small part because the United States Food and Drug Administration authorized producers to simply label the ingredient as meat. The public therefore had no meaningful way of knowing that they were consuming the product until recent reports revealed that around 70 percent of meat bought at grocery stores and other retailers contained the ammonia-washed ingredient.
The outrage was considerable, and it resulted in dwindling demand for meat containing lean finely textured beef. As a result, last week, Beef Products Inc., the largest manufacturer of the ingredient, announced that it would suspend operations at several facilities, including its plants in Garden City, Kansas, Amarillo, Texas and Waterloo, Iowa. The closure of these plants will likely reduce the production by a whopping 900,000 pounds per day while resulting in the temporary layoff of around 650 employees in affected states.
The company isn’t going down without a fight, though, and it has since announced that it would embark on a massive public relations campaign designed to restore confidence in the product. Lacking for substantive challenges and no longer concerned about the appropriate use of taxpayer monies, governors from affected states have joined the public relations campaign to crusade against the lack of demand for the product.
On Thursday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Texas Governor Rick Perry banded together to tour Beef Products Inc.’s facility in South Sioux City, Nebraska. They were seemingly impressed by their foray – which lasted a full thirty minutes – and they want you to know all about it. The governors issued a joint statement that assured the world that “[o]ur states proudly produce food for the country and the world – and we do so with the highest commitment toward product safety. Lean finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product…” Individually, they echoed the sentiment:
- Governor Perry focused on the damning effects of the reduction in demand. He was concerned that the decreased consumption of the filler will deprive the public of a “safe” product that “is very much needed in this country…”
Ironically, the most vocal response to the politician’s campaign did not originate with a consumer advocacy group or an organization of concerned citizens. Instead, the fast food industry has assured the public that it disavows the use of lean finely textured beef filler regardless of the governors’ claims about its safety and nutritional value. That’s right – even the industry that has historically peddled highly processed pseudo-beef and the most unhealthy foods has drawn a proverbial line in the sand.
On Friday – the day after the governors attempted to rally public support for the use of lean finely textured beef – Wendy ran an advertisement in eight major newspapers, including the New York Times and USA Today. It plays upon the old catchphrase of “Where’s The Beef” and appears as follows:
The advertisement isn’t the first statement that the fast food industry has made about the use of pink slime. Earlier, McDonald’s claimed that it no longer used lean finely textured beef in its products. Taco Bell and Burger King have also assured the public that they have ceased using meat containing the filler.
What does that mean? It means that politicians want you to eat a product that they claim is healthy and safe even when the freakin’ fast food industry won’t serve to the public. Tune in next time, when state governors campaign against the use of seat belts and promote the benefits of illegal drug use.