Yes! More On the Pink Slime Controversy: Facts Matter

There was a good piece about the "Pink Slime" uproar in yesterday's Bloomberg News --- more facts than we're used to getting, and a thorough account of the role of BPI, Inc., the company (wrongly) blamed for PS and its use. (*1) One of the players in this uproar is a woman named Bettina Elias Siegal, who blogs about food and particularly about food in American school lunch programs. Upset about the sale of PS to lunch programs, she launched an online petition to have it pulled from school lunchrooms.

I mention that here because of a quote from her in the Bloomberg article:

While blogger Siegel said the job losses are “tragic,” she notes that BPI “should have had no hesitation to inform consumers” that its product “was in the ground beef from the beginning,” perhaps through labeling. “I have never expressed anywhere a desire to drive this company out of business,” she said.

No wonder there's so much confusion and misinformation floating around! Siegel apparently doesn't know that BPI doesn't sell the product direct to customers. It isn't responsible for whatever labels are affixed to packages of hamburger that contain PS. BPI sells its lean finely textured beef (its trade name) to companies like ConAgra, who then add it to other ground beef to make hamburger, and then sell the burger to its customers.

So whatever labels the stuff could, or should, carry aren't up to BPI, but to the company/institution that actually packages the burger that contains PS. (A bit convoluted, but presumably you get my point.)

Is this a trivial matter of semantics? Probably. Unfortunately, such trivialities and missteps and errors keep piling on and adding up --- and now the Roth family may end up going out of business.

Yesterday I was in a Trader Joe's store --- and there, slapped on to the meat case, was a sign saying there was no PS in the company's beef products. And that processors and packers add ammonia to their products so that beef will have "that red color that customers want." (Or words to that effect. I didn't think to write down the wording; this is very close to the original.) To which I said "Huh?" And rolled my eyes.

Again: I remind readers that I'm not a shill for corporate America. I'm not attached to either "side" in this controversy. What drives me nuts is the way this affair is powered by an engine constructed primarily of misinformation, outright lie, emotion, and fear-mongering. This is our food system we're talking about. It's important. So I'd rather see the discussion rooted in substance rather than, well, fluff and fear.


*1: Chops to Jen Robinson for pointing me to the article. I was out of the house most of yesterday and pretty well detached from the world.