May was recognized as “Beef Month”, a time when we can fire up the backyard Bar-B-Que grill and throw on our favorite steak, roast, or hamburger, and honor our nation’s cattle producers. However, the beef industry has had its share of hard knocks recently, with the so-called “pink slime” slander against Beef Products, Incorporated and the detection of the BSE or “Mad-cow” disease that appeared in one dairy cow in California offers even more negative reaction to beef. The next meat-related news item sure to bring some added controversy is the so-called “meat glue”; a process using pork or beef callaguon that helps piece together scraps of meat which otherwise would be thrown away, instead it to forms a larger meat cut. This process is widely used.
It is a shame that the slanderous reporting by the nation’s media have lead to the closure of B-P-I’s three plants located in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo, Iowa at the expense of 650 jobs. Then a few days later some 86 corporate level jobs were eliminated at B-P-I’s headquarters in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.
I was one that had hoped that the comments led by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Kansas Governor Sam Brownfield back in March would be enough to turn the negative wave of skepticism. I still believe that with time, consumers will be back purchasing the Lean Finely Textured Beef, if for no other reason, because of the savings on the cost. The U-S-D-A needs to share some of the blame. Yes, it is true that Secretary Vilsack came out in support of the LFTB. But not before his agency told the school districts across the nation that they could back out of their agreements and instead choose another product. Secretary Vilsack and the U-S-D-A could have been out front at an earlier point of time and perhaps could have turned the tide. Instead, they chose to put “water” on the prarie fire after it had spread and burnt the countryside, in a matter of speaking. What surprised me the most about the negative public reaction was there was never a recall of the product, never any illnesses associated with the product, never any food borne bacteria found on the product. So you could ask the question, why the hysteria? It is truly unfortunate that B-P-I suffered the terrible consequences of a rampant media slander. But I wonder what does it say about us as a people if we are so naive, that we don’t take a few minutes to check the facts, but to base our opinion solely on the name that one person assigned the Lean Finely Textured Beef. The meat processing industry has found a way to utilize the beef product that just a few years ago would have been thrown away. I don’t understand why the consumer can’t see that B-P-I is assisting the consumer. First, by making certain the product sold is safe, and free of any bacteria. And second, B-P-I is trying its best to utilize the entire beef animal which means a cheaper food expense for the consumer. During this month of May and well into the future, let’s all help bring back the lost jobs by purchasing the LFTB and place another burger on the grill.