We Refuse To Call LFTB “Pink [blank]”

Let’s be transparent right up front. We don’t manufacture or process ground beef, so we don’t use or make Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB). We do trim beef briskets for corned beef, and some of those trimmings are sold to a broker for resale to other processors. They do not end up as LFTB, though, due to strict labeling and controls by the USDA. In essence, no one asked us to write this.

But we know that our beef trimmings are no different beef than the original brisket they are taken from. Briskets are trimmed by us because we make a premium product with briskets that are often hand-trimmed to specifications. By selling the trim, we help keep the cost of our product down and reduce waste.

Let’s repeat that: the ability to sell our trimmings helps reduce the cost of our product to the end consumer.

But now the media has jumped on a pejorative, disparaging term for LFTB and needlessly scared the crap out of the average consumer. We are not alone in believing that this is essentially a media tactic intended to boost ratings and readership. One expert calls it “careless and deliberate misinformation“. Another writer claims that the media “cares more about headlines than health.”

Unfortunately, this tactic has had a large negative impact on the entire beef industry, and the loser is the consumer.

The bottom line is that there is not one shred of evidence that LFTB is unhealthy or dangerous. But it is cost-effective, which means that the American consumer is going to be paying more for ALL beef products -including ours – in the future because of the smear against LFTB.

How fair is that?

One thought on “We Refuse To Call LFTB “Pink [blank]”

  1. I feel that I need to preface my post by saying that I worked in the meat industry for a while and, for the most part, am an ardent supporter of it. I defended portions of the movie “Food, Inc.” to people who were aghast at what they saw. It is easy for the meat industry to be portrayed in a negative light because what goes on in the plants can be unsettling to people, and this is because our society has become detached from where our food comes from. We get our meat in neat plastic packages and don’t really think where that package came from.

    That being said, I view the attention paid to LFTB as an overall good thing for consumers. I don’t think that the view that the product is harmful or otherwise unsafe is fair, but I think for people to know what it is, how it is used, and what products it ends up in provides consumers with knowledge and choice.

    As an example, Mechanically Separated Chicken is a product similar to LFTB in that it utilizes scrap and allows for final products to be made with less cost. As a former employee in the industry, I have handled MSC in its raw form, and I personally really don’t care to eat it. There is nothing unwholesome with MSC, but I don’t want to eat it. Knowing what it is allows me as a consumer to make purchasing decisions by looking at ingredient statements so I can avoid products that use it. Do I pay a higher price for processed meat? Absolutely. But as the old adage goes “you get what you pay for”.

    Doing a little research, I found that LFTB is not required to be declared as a separate ingredient, but it is voluntary (http://www.agweb.com/article/usda_grants_lftb_labeling_on_ground_beef_products/) [if I am incorrect, please correct me]. I think that not requiring it to be declared is a disingenuous as when people think of ground beef, they think of ground whole muscle and fat, not processed filler. If it is declared, then the consumer can make the choice. If they want to pay more, then they can. If not, they can do that as well.

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