This information comes from Richard Wortham, the Executive VP of the Texas Beef Council. Being a cattle ranch raised girl myself, I wanted to let you all know the truth about the recent “pink slime” coverage in the media. This was from a letter that TBC sent to all of the school cafeteria managers in case they get questions about the beef in their children’s lunches. Just like you, we want to make sure our families, school children and Texas consumers have access to high-quality, safe food. Unfortunately, as with so many things, it’s hard to discern the facts from the hype. Here’s what you should know about LFTB (lean finely textured beef):
* LFTB is beef. When steaks and roasts are cut, it creates the “trim” that becomes ground beef. The LFTB goes through a process to remove fat from the beef trim that can’t effectively be reclaimed with a knife. It is then added to ground beef as a concentrated, lean source of protein. Though some media outlets are reporting this product is filler, that’s not true.
* Ground beef that includes LFTB is proven safe and supported by independent scientists, safety advocates and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). By law, E. coli and Salmonella cannot be in meat supplied for school lunch. In some cases, a small, safe amount of ammonia gas or citric acid is used in the process of LFTB, which like other safety measures along the way, reduces the potential for bacterial contamination. FSIS has reviewed and approved this practice as safe, and safety advocates have applauded it as an effective way of ensuring safe beef for consumers.
* Processing aids like ammonia gas, citric acid and others do not appear singled out on food labels because by definition and by law, they do not affect the finished food.
* The nutritional profiles of LFTB and traditional ground beef are nearly identical. LFTB is 90-to-95% lean (5-10% fat) and, just like all beef, is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
* LFTB offers affordable nutrition for kids, which is critical given shrinking school budgets, rising food costs and the fact that for many kids, school lunch is their best chance at getting a well-balanced meal during the day.
You may be wondering if we’re talking about the same product after all you’ve heard or read about “pink slime,” but the fact is, the gross descriptions of this product and process aren’t true. LFTB is simply a low-fat source of beef added to ground beef used in dishes you know and love. If you go to the Texas Beef Council’s website, there are a number of resources available if you’re interested in learning more, including: a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; video of the process from one of the LFTB suppliers, Beef Products Inc.; an interview and expert Q&A with Dr. Russell Cross, former FSIS administrator and current head of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University; and a “pink slime” myth debunking website.