At the end of March, Beef Products Inc – a beef processing company that manufactures a product which some call “lean finely textured beef” and others call “pink slime” – suspended operations at three production facilities in Amarillo, TX; Garden City, KS; and Waterloo, IA. At the time, the company vowed to continue paying its workers full salary and benefits for sixty days while it managed the PR fallout from consumer backlash against pink slime. While it still holds to its claims that lean finely textured beef is quality material, BPI is closing the doors on those facilities for good.
Food Safety News reports that BPI will continue to operate its flagship facility in South Sioux City, NE, but even that is operating at reduced capacity due to the sheer lack of demand and lost business surrounding March’s pink slime backlash. The three facility closings will result in the loss of 650 jobs, but the company promises to stick to its guns and continue to pay its employees until the final shut-downs on May 25. BPI also assures the public that it isn’t wavering in its stance of defending the reputation of finely textured beef:
"We intend to continue operations at this location and expand production here as the market activity allows," [company spokesperson Rich] Jochum said. "In the interim, we continue to stand by our lean beef as 100 percent wholesome, safe and nutritious, and we will continue to defend Beef Products Inc. against the mischaracterized and irresponsible misrepresentations that led us to take these actions."
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad – noted supporter of beef trimmings and enemy of meat-hating Hollywood and media elites – also weighed in on the situation:
"This is a sad day for the state of Iowa," Branstad said. "The fact that a false, misleading smear campaign can destroy a company's reputation overnight should disturb us all. My office will never stop fighting for every single job in this state, and I continue to hope that as consumers learn about this safe, healthy and lean food, they will understand what a great product lean, finely textured beef truly is."
Of course, it does beg the question: if finely textured beef was truly so great a product and so integral to the nation’s food supply, why weren’t consumers hearing about it from the beginning? Any loss of jobs is tragic in today’s economy – that’s a fact which practically goes without saying. But perhaps BPI’s story can stand as a reminder to other businesses about the importance of transparency and openness in production, and the importance of offering consumers a dialog and a choice, in order to avoid similar instances like this in the future.
[SOURCE: Food Safety News]