Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Officials: 'Pink Slime' Concerns to Affect Beef Prices

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Officials: 'Pink Slime' Concerns to Affect Beef Prices

Article excerpt

Heather Buckmaster is frustrated, seeing red, far from being tickled pink.

"What could we have done differently?" the head of the Oklahoma Beef Council asked. "I keep asking myself the same question over and over. ... We are looking at potentially higher prices in the meat case at the grocery store, potentially increased imports and people of out work. All because of a product that was safe. I mean, what do you say?"

Beef has been under attack for the last month because of concerns raised over so-called "pink slime," a highly processed meat product referred to as lean, finely textured beef, or LFTB in industry lingo. The low-cost filler is derived from meat scraps that are heated to remove fat and treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to eliminate bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. People have consumed it for years and the bacteria-killing chemicals are used in a wide range of other processed foods, according to officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Oklahoma State University Extension agricultural economist Derrell Peel said that LFTB is a necessary product that more consumers would appreciate if they better understood its nature and the larger economic picture.

"Given concerns about rising food prices, growing global food demand and food security, we must use beef products in the most efficient manner possible," Peel said. "LFTB is sort of the modern equivalent of your grandmother boiling the soup bones to make beef stock. She could not afford to waste beef then and neither can we today. We have the lowest relative food prices in the world and the reason we do is because we utilize processes like LFTB to capture the maximum value of food production."

Regardless of whether LFTB is safe or even noticeable when mixed as with other ground beef, consumers have said they're put off by the mere appearance of the gooey product and knowledge of the chemicals used in production. …

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