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“Pink slime” controversy continues to rage

The National Center for Public Research refutes recent furor over “lean finely textured beef”

With headlines dripping with disgust lately like the juice from a “finely cooked” burger over the “pink slime” meat filler, it was only a matter of time before somebody bit back. Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, penned an op ed in the New York Post this morning, roasting the ever-increasing roster of critics.

First on his plate was Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who weeks ago mandated that all New York City schools drop the filler from its menus. Stier’s argument? That despite how it looks and what it’s made from, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and scientists agree that the “meat” is perfectly fine.

“Let’s be clear: The meat product known as ‘lean finely textured beef’ does look gross,” he opines. “But so does just about every meat product —ever seen how they make pastrami? And this stuff is perfectly safe, and almost certainly healthier than its likely replacement.”

Stier goes on to discuss how the meat filler is not only “sustainable” but also safe, noting how Beef Products International Inc. (BPI)—the main producer of “lean finely textured beef”—tests the product more than the USDA’s regulations require.

Regardless of whether pink slime is sustainable or safe, BPI announced last week that it was suspending operations at plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas because of the public outcry. And another producer, AFA Foods, announced Monday that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. AFA said in a release that it will attempt to sell some or all of its assets in an effort to continue funding ongoing operations. GE Capital and Bank of America have agreed to provide $56 million in debtor-in-possession financing to the company.

However, at one point in the editorial, Stier asks why people and business should waste money on higher-priced alternatives given the alleged sustainability and healthiness of pink slime. And he says that if it didn’t taste good, people would have voted with their stomachs long ago.

Last week, Jon Stewart endured a protracted personal battle on The Daily Show, asking himself that same question and, in the end, pink slime won.

For more pro-slime arguments, read the National Center for Public Policy Research’s release.

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