Three of four “pink slime” factories have been temporarily shut down after public outcry over the highly processed beef product. Pink slime, which is also known by the more formal name of “lean, finely textured beef.”
The plants that have been shut down are in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo, Iowa,; while the company’s headquarters in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota will remain open. Craig Letch, spokesman for the company, Beef Products Inc., informed the Associated Press about the temporary shut down.
Pink slime is a beef product that has a filler ingredient treated with ammonia. It has become the target of activists recently, who are seeking to have it banned in both supermarkets and in school lunches. The government has used the product for years in school lunches, because it is a cheaper alternative to regular ground beef.
In a decision by the US Department of Agriculture, school districts are now allowed to stop using the ingredient. Also, some retail grocery chains have banned products containing it.
Letch said in a statement that, “We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back…it’s 100 percent beef.”
He explained the process by saying that pink slime is made from:
“Fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.”
He also advised the Associated Press that about 200 employees that work at the three plants will continue to get their full salary and benefits for 60 days while the suspension is ongoing. He said that the three suspended plants combined produce 900,000 pounds of the filler product per day.