The American Meat Institute (AMI) told FoodQualityNews.com that the “large majority” of consumers are comfortable with the use of ‘pink slime’ in meat products, despite more than 200,000 people in the US signing an online petition to ban the meat filler in schools in just over a week.
The Tell USDA to Stop Using Pink Slime in School Fund petition, which has called for a full ban on the use of ‘pink slime’ in school-destined meat products, cited the claims of two former-USDA scientists that the meat filler was approved for use for political reasons despite there being safety concerns.
Reports from the US have since suggested that the USDA is set to give schools the option of serving meat products not containing ‘pink slime’.
Majority are confident
“We don’t like to see consumers concerned about the safety or quality of a product, but there are a lot of consumers out there, not just the 200,000 who are vocally against it. The large majority are confident in the US supply,” said AMI senior vice president of public affairs Janet Riley.
“I can fully appreciate that 200,000 signatures on a petition is a lot, but there are 350m consumers in the US.”
“There are food safety experts, consumer groups, figures from the meat industry who are all in support of the use of lean beef trimming in meat products.”
Those that have come to the defence of ‘pink slime’ include former US Secretary of Agriculture John Block, respected food safety consultant Dave Theno and leading US food safety attorney Bill Marler.
“In the US, it is a consumer right to petition against a product. But this petition is not based on the full facts,” said Riley.
Beef Products Inc. (BPI), one of the world’s largest producers of lean beef trimming, said earlier this week that concerns surrounding the product boiled down to a “gross misunderstanding” fuelled by media speculation – a statement AMI hs backed.
“These are not scraps of meat off the floor, it is not dog food - just meat that we couldn’t previously remove with a knife. This is an edible meat. People used to struggle to separate the meat from fat by hand, so now it is done by a machine,” she added.
“I don’t know why the media and consumers keep on focusing on the claims of two ex-USDA scientists, when we have a federal agency such as the USDA standing by this product.”
“First of all, it shouldn’t be referred to as ‘pink slime’. That is part of the problem. What we need to do is better communicate the true facts to consumers.”
“The accurate label is beef. It’s just lean, finely textured beef; not ‘pink slime’.”