In under a week an inexpensive beef product used as a filler to stretch packets of ground beef has gone from public food enemy number one to a darling of industry and government.
The beef product, called lean finely textured beef but nicknamed "pink slime" by activists, consists of scraps of meat left over from other cuts. Many of the fears around it centered on the fact it is treated with a puff of ammonia hydroxide to kill E. Coli and other bacteria. Many other commonly consumed food products, however, are also treated the same way.
After fears about the safety of the product were raised, many stores, including Hy-Vee, pulled it from their shelves. Suffering sales led a major producer, Beef Products Inc., to suspend operation at plants in three states, including Waterloo. The Waterloo suspension affects over 200 jobs.
Since then, a bevy of LFTB advocates have spoken out in defense of the food, including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who joined other governors to tour a plant and taste some LFTB-filled burgers.
On Wednesday, Hy-Vee announced it would return the product to its shelves, with a label denoting which meat contains LFTB and which does not. The store wrote in a press release:
"They've (customers) sent us a clear message: They want a choice when it comes to ground beef, and they want to support companies that provide thousands of jobs in our Midwest trade area."
So, what do you think? Is LFTB an unfairly maligned food? Will you be serving some for dinner? Take our poll, and tell us how you feel in the comments.