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Published: Sunday, 6/8/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

MEAT CONTROVERSY

Pink slime returns as beef prices increase

Furor at product deemed safe eases

KANSAS CITY STAR
As ground beef prices climb, the country’s largest producers of the meat ingredient — which has been deemed safe by federal regulators — are seeing an uptick in demand after it was shunned by grocers and fast-food restaurants. As ground beef prices climb, the country’s largest producers of the meat ingredient — which has been deemed safe by federal regulators — are seeing an uptick in demand after it was shunned by grocers and fast-food restaurants.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Maybe the power of the almighty dollar speaks louder than fear of the unknown.

Two years after a frenzy over “pink slime” swept the country, the much-derided meat product the industry calls finely textured beef is quietly rebounding.

As ground beef prices climb, the country’s largest producers of the meat ingredient — which has been deemed safe by federal regulators — are seeing an uptick in demand after it was shunned by grocers and fast-food restaurants.

“The fallout over the media furor has died down,” said Steve Kay, publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly. “Now that the emotion is out of it, [consumers] realize the product always was and still is a perfectly legitimate beef product.”

Officials from Cargill Inc. and Beef Products Inc. say sales of the meat blend made from mostly fatty, boneless beef trimmings left over from slaughtered cattle have climbed.

Cargill produces finely textured beef and Beef Products sells a variation known as lean finely textured beef. The two products are differentiated by the patented processes used in making them.

A spokesman for Cargill said the company’s sales of finely textured beef bounced back — to an extent — after plunging 80 percent in the aftermath of the March, 2012, controversy.

Yet the company’s product sales are still down 40 percent, spokesman Mike Martin said.



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