US government says ‘pink slime’ can now be called ground beef

With the reclassification, you may now be purchasing ground beef with added 'ground beef'

Sarah Harvard
New York
Thursday 14 February 2019 17:00
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A sales assistant portions mincemeat 01 August 2007 in a butcher's shop in Berlin.
A sales assistant portions mincemeat 01 August 2007 in a butcher's shop in Berlin.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has now reclassified the product once dubbed “pink slime,” a meat filler product described as “lean finely textured beef,” as “ground beef.”

Beef Products Inc (BPI), the South Dakota manufacturer of the product, has received approval from USDA to label its product as “ground beef.”

The reclassification comes several years after BPI filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News in 2012 after the news organisation coined the term “pink slime” in a report about its product. In 2017, the lawsuit resulted in a settlement between ABC News and BPI for about $177m, the highest ever in this type of corporate legal case.

The USDA’s reclassification of the product was based on “an extensive review that took well over six months and included consumer reviews, [and] nutritional panels,” BPI Vice President of Engineering Nick Ross told Beef Magazine.

Mr Ross said the review also included tours of BPI’s plant so that USDA personnel could get an inside-look at the process.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said the “lean finely textured beef” produced at BPI meets the “regulatory definition of ground beef” under the government’s Code of Federal Regulations.

“After reviewing BPI’s submission of a new product and new production process, [FSIS] determined that the product meets the regulatory definition of ground beef under the law in 9 CFR 319.15(a) and may be labeled accordingly,” a FSIS spokesperson told the New Food Economy.

The reclassification won’t change much for beef eaters.

Before the reclassification, restaurants and companies who use did not have to disclose their use of the product.

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But as Geek pointed out, the reclassification for the “lean finely textured beef” just means that meat consumers have the option to purchase “ground beef” with added “ground beef.”

The reclassification was made official in December 2018 and was first reported by Beef Magazine, a publication dedicated to providing source and product information on the beef cattle industry.

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