Pink Slime Production On Hold
The company that manufactures "pink slime" suspended operations Monday at three of four plants where the beef ingredient is created. Officials announced that they would work to address the recent and growing public concern about their product.
Among the Beef Products Inc. plants which will suspend operations include the location in Amarillo, Texas; in Garden City, Kan.; and in Waterloo, Iowa, according to the company's director of food safety and quality assurance Craig Letch.
However, Letch also stated that the company's South Dakota plant at it's Dakota Dunes headquarters will continue its operations.
"We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back," Letch said. "It's 100 percent beef."
The ammonia-treated filler, which is referred to in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," has been labeled by federal regulators as meeting food safety standards.
Critics, however, have said that the product is potentially unsafe for consumers and that it serves as an "unappetizing example of industrialized food production."
The product is made from leftover fatty bits of meat from other cuts. To create the filler, the bits are then heated and spun to reduce the fat level and then are compressed into blocks to be mixed with ground meat. The product is also treated with ammonium hydroxide gas in an effort to kill harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.
Letch said after the meat is processed, the result is a product that can be up to 97 percent lean beef.
The plants in Kansas and Iowa each produced roughly 350,000 pounds of pink slime a day, while the Amarillo plant manufactured about 200,000 pounds of the product per day.
The filler has been used in meat for years, but recently an online petition has spread via social media seeking to end the use of pink slime from schools.
The move to end the product's use has now garnered thousands of supporters and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to allow school districts to have the option of choosing to stop using the filler.
Some retail chains have also removed products from their shelves which contain pink slime.
While operations are suspended, about 200 employees at each of the temporarily closed three plants will receive full salary and benefits during the 60 day suspension, according to Letch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.