Pink Slime Scare Sparks Decline in Ground Beef Demand

The growing public concern over “pink slime” has begun to impact demand for beef, according to industry insiders. Known within the industry as lean, finely textured beef, the ground beef filler came under fire late last year when an expose revealed that McDonald’s used beef that contains pink slime. McDonald’s stopped using it, and the attention died out for the most part, until a few weeks ago, when an ABC News story showed that 70 percent of the ground beef sold in the US contains pink slime, sparking a public outcry that prompted a number of grocery chains to pull pink slime-containing ground beef from their shelves, including the nation’s two biggest, Safeway and Kroger.

Lean, finely textured beef is made from beef trimmings that were previously used in dog and cat food. The trimmings come from parts of the cow that are highly susceptible to contamination, which are simmers over low heat and then sprayed with ammonia to ensure the absence of bacteria. Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest producer of processed meats, said Tuesday that demand for ground beef has been hampered significantly by the controversy.

Beef Products Inc., meanwhile, the company that makes the filler, announced on Tuesday it was closing three plants that produce pink slime and launching a public relations campaign to convince the public of the filler’s safety.