Hyvee, Pink Slime (LFTB) and Stupidity

It’s generally not common for shoppers to thank grocers for carrying certain products – we just expect them to be there and take for granted the different options available to us. There’s usually two or three different brands/varieties of each product on our grocery list, which allows us to be selective based on price, brand loyalty and taste.

Unless you shop at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway or Target and henceforth your ground beef options will have been slashed. Those retailers have chosen to cease utilizing lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) in their ground beef products which drastically reduces the options available to we, the shoppers. Even though the USDA, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and one of the producers of LFTB, Beef Products Inc., have affirmed its safety time and again. In fact just yesterday three governors (Iowa, Kansas, Texas) toured a BPI plant and chowed down on burgers made from LFTB after their tour. Governor Branstad (Iowa) stated in a press conference that boycotting LFB is bad for the econom and the public’s health:

”The problem is, we take this off the market, then we end up with a fatter product that’s going to cost more and it’s going to increase the obesity problem in this country,” he said at the news conference. “It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s not caused any problems in terms of health — that’s the most important thing here, is protecting the health of the citizens of this country and making sure that they have product that’s safe.”

He also scolded the national media for permeating the ongoing discussion with a “poisonous tone,” which he warned was “detrimental to the beef industry and the jobs that support it.”

“It’s time to end the smear campaign and to stop the use of inaccurate, inappropriate and charged words designed to scare people,” he said.

To read more about the Governors’ visit – check out these sources.

However, there is one grocery chain who has chosen to not jump on the uneducated bandwagon and will continue to offer LFTB choices. Know why? From the Hyvee website:

“Hy-Vee takes great pride in listening to the voices of our customers and offering them outstanding values on the quality products they want to buy,” the company said in a statement published on its website. “Following our recent decision to stop purchasing ground beef containing Lean Finely Textured Beef, we heard from many customers who asked us to continue carrying this product.

“They’ve sent us a clear message: They want a choice when it comes to ground beef, and they want to support companies that provide thousands of jobs in our Midwest trade area. In response to this feedback, Hy-Vee has made a decision to offer both kinds of ground beef — both with and without Lean Finely Textured Beef.”

Bravo! It’s so refreshing that our voices were actually heard and Hyvee responded. This is what agriculturalists and agvocates work for – empowering people to voice their need for choices and search out correct information. This is a superb example of a company standing up for what is right and making decisions based on facts and consumer demands.

Unfortunately, not all grocers are created equal and the aforementioned stores that have chosen to cease offering LFTB have, with the help of horrible reporting by ABC news, caused BPI to close its plants in Kansas, Texas and Iowa. This cease of production has left about 800 people out of work, which is a travesty since LFTB is safe for consumption and is comprised of 100% beef and only 95% lean. Thankfully, and contributing to the stand up values of BPI, the company will continue paying employees full salary until the situation has been resolved. Wow.

Oh by the way, did you know that since the bottom has fallen out of LFTB demand – DUE TO ATROCIOUS REPORTING BY ABC – beef producers will need to supply processing plants with an additional 1.5 million head of cattle in order to meet demand. This comes on the heels of one of the worst droughts in recent history this past summer which caused the national cow herd to drop to the lowest numbers since 1952. This is becoming the perfect storm for through the roof beef prices and a lot of additional stress on the cattle industry.

On the topic of poor ABC reporting – I know that getting people to read articles is sometimes difficult. Gold mines are found in sensational headlines with buzz words however, a biased slandering piece about a 100% safe process that provides millions of people with healthy, safe and affordable beef does not fall under responsible journalism. There will be likely be another post about journalism on this blog and how not to do it – I don’t have a communications, English or journalism degree but I know how to check the facts.

This post has ended up a lot longer than I intended but the consequences of turning our backs on an economical, safe and healthy product are far reaching and sombering. If you appreciate choices, low-cost high-quality food, please please please call the renegade grocery stores that have suspended LFTB and let them know how you feel.

Look for more on this topic later because it’s not going anywhere.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~


13 responses to “Hyvee, Pink Slime (LFTB) and Stupidity”

  1. At least LFTB was a beef product. Who knows what kind of filler they will use now to reduce the cost of ground beef. Do you think that is a possibility?
    I am also wondering how this will affect other livestock industry – like poultry and pork. Will we be reading articles in the near future about the terrible truth of chicken nuggets? Just a couple of thoughts….

  2. I think I already read some hype a while back about the chicken nugget thing? But I don't remember exactly what it was. Thanks for all the good links Brandi, I didn't know that about Walmart, Target, Kroger, etc. I can't afford right now to shop at HyVee for everything but I'm defiantly going to start buying any meat I need from there and not the other places.

  3. That's one of the problems we have in our modern society. Everything's so consolidated from processing to retail sales that if you get a few big purchasers spooked over something, they can shut a company down just by not buying that company's product.

    Ironically, that's one of the negatives that many people talk about with Walmart. They're so big that they can come in, undercut the smaller existing businesses to the point that those businesses close, then Walmart is the only game in town and they can tell their suppliers what to make and how to make it. Standard competative business model.

    I think Walmart, Kroger and Safeway are the 3 biggest grocery/retail chains in the USA. If you're a big processor like BPI, you have to have a big buyer to handle the volume you're producing. You're dependent on a small handful of buyers and if they stop buying you're sunk.

    So what we have is the media spooks the public. The public spooks those big retailers and they dump BPI.

    And as far as choice goes, why do you think those big retailers decided to pull product carrying LFTB in the first place? It was because they anticipated that the public would refuse to buy it. They were anticipating a shift in their market and were trying to get ahead of it. In other words, their they figured their customers had already told them what to do. Just as HyVee did by pulling and then restocking the product.

  4. How crazy is it that one reporter can make such a media hype about something we have been safely consuming for years?

    Thank you for the fantastic post and I will be contacting Wal-Mart and telling them that I want my LFTB!


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    LFTB- lean fine textured beef product which includes everything that was left over from the cattle after all the normal processing. Sinew, cartilage, tissue- what used to be considered dog food is now acceptable for human consumption because someone discovered that you can kill all the bacteria, that was left in the dog food, by spraying it with ammonia gas. This product has never been labeled as a by product and to call it anything other than a by product is false advertising and misleading.
    I don't mind a choice at all- if Hy-Vee wants to sell both varieties because they have customers that work for BPI, kudos for them. As for me, I want a higher quality standard for myself and my family so I'll shop at the local meat market like I always have. I know what goes into his ground beef.
    As for health considerations, the public has only been eating this stuff for 15 years which is not long enough to see any side effects. We have no clue what LFTB can do to the human body,if it does anything,.
    It's a cheap way to make ground beef go farther, its a filler so if you decide to consume the product- go right ahead. Try to buy a brick of it for your own consumption. You can't because it is illegal to sell it directly to the public.

  6. Amanda Avatar

    To the person who wishes to remain anonymous, it is NOT illegal to buy LFTB. Check the facts

  7. Anonymous – it's not a by-product. It is 100% beef and 95% lean. The label says, 'ground beef' – which is exactly what it is. This process was developed over 30 years ago, so I don't really know where you got the 15 years fact. It's not a filler, but I can guarantee you that there will be fillers now that aren't meat – soy, wheat etc. That will lead to labeling which will say that the product is no longer 100% beef, which will cause self imposed backlash from consumers.

    Joanne – the difference between Wal-Mart and Hyvee is that Hyvee retracted based on actual feedback from consumers. Wal-Mart just assumed

    Elizabeth – would love info on the chicken nugget thing. Have had people ask me about that, too.

    Anonymous – I absolutely despise anonymous commenting, btw. I don't moderate comments because it's a free world but coming onto a blog and bashing a product while providing no facts whatsoever is pretty ignorant and cowardly.

  8. Elizabeth, they will not and cannot add fillers to ground beef to replace LFTB because ground beef is a single ingredient product (can only contain beef). However, there very well may be an increase in items like seasoned beef (think what places such as Taco Bell sell) which are not required, and as their name implies, to be 100% beef.

    There will absolutely be an impact on other industries and already has been. It will be interesting to see how it rebounds, but because of the drop in beef trim prices, pork trim has also plummeted. Companies used to use pork in processed meats in greater quantities than beef due to price. However, I imagine you will actually see higher %ages of beef, at least in the interim as our industry fluctuates and determines how to cope. I don't have any first hand knowledge of the poultry industry and prices, but I imagine there is a similar thing happening… though trim is historically already lower than pork and beef.

    Anonymous you say "Sinew, cartilage, tissue- what used to be considered dog food" … meat is tissue – very nutritious, wholesome tissue. (I will ignore the fact that sinew and cartilage are virtually synonymous). Trim will always contain both meat, fat, and connective tissue (CT).. in fact every single muscle fiber is surrounded by CT, if we'd like to be technical. But, I don't really understand the uproar that there is cartilage in trim. There are plenty of high connective tissue cuts that we eat (and cut around the CT) on a regular basis. Arm roasts, many cuts from the round, brisket (pretty much anything you typically marinate and/or cook slowly).

    The notion that Ammonium Hydroxide needs to be labeled with beef, but not in any other food product is not only asinine, but is setting a dangerous precedent for the future (not just in the meat industry). It has been tested and considered safe for use as a processing aid – for meat, baked goods, cheese, and a host of other products. But, I didn't see it labeled on the that last loaf of bread I bought. But with my travel schedule, I am sure glad they are able to extend it's shelf life so I can have a sandwich when I get home and not a moldy bag of bread.. We have a responsibility, first to the US and 2nd to the world, to produce the safest food we possibly can. With consumer demands for convenient, safe food with a long shelf life, we are doing our best to provide you our best. We are good at it and constantly getting better. Every single day.

    That being said, keep supporting your local butcher, if that's your choosing. I will always be a proponent of maintaining small meat plants and supporting local economies. However, small butchers and large meat plants don't need to be mutually exclusive; there is absolutely a benefit for diversity throughout the food supply.

  9. Thanks so much for your insight and those facts, Web!

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Are you actually defending selling what was animal feed to humans and pretending it is good for you? I suppose you like GMO, chemical, processed foods all around since they are cheap?

    I don't care what they sell as long as they inform me what is in it and I have a choice. I refuse to eat the processed garbage they call food in the center isles of the stores, and the outer ring of the stores has become more and more dangerous place to shop. I for one was glad that they bothered to break this story so that I could make an informed decision. Now since they refuse to label these products I refuse to buy any ground beef products. Once they see fit to label and I feel like I can trust them then and only then will I be back to buy the products. I am trending more and more to finding my local farmers and buying direct. These large corporations are not interested in the health of their consumers, on the immediate profits they can reap.

    Sorry to hear that there are people actually defending scumbag corporations pimping animal feeds as "healthy and nutritious and there are people actually defending them… Go figure! It would be something completely different if they came clean in the first place and told us, but we have to find out about this after they have been dumping this stuff in our meat for the last 10 years… Not cool!

    1. They aren't 'dumping' anything in your meat. LFTB is 100% REAL BEEF.