A Sioux City lawmaker is denouncing a “celebrity chef” who he accuses of fueling the backlash against a lean beef product that’s made at a plant in his area. Critics call the product “pink slime” but Representative Jeremy Taylor said that’s inaccurate.
“The campaign was launched against lean, finely-textured beef and it was irresponsible, ill-informed and an emotionally-charged one,” Taylor said during a speech on the floor of the Iowa House.
Lean, finely-textured beef is made from the trimmings left over after steaks and roasts are cut out of beef carcases. Demand for the product has dropped after a youtube video of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver went viral on the internet and consumers began demanding that their ground beef not contain the additive. Beef Products, Incorporated, has suspended operations at plants in Waterloo, Kansas and Texas and now has limited shifts at its plant in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Representative Taylor said the company’s headquarters in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, is “literally a stone’s throw away” from Sioux City, Iowa.
“There are literally hundreds of people from my home town who will be affected by this and are trying to set the record straight,” Taylor said, “and so my hope is you will join me in doing just that.”
Some analysts indicate demand for the lean, finely-textured beef product plunged by as much as 70 percent in the past month as school cafeterias and grocery store chains took steps to buy lean ground beef that does not contain the additive.
“And what prompted all this? Not an outbreak of e-coli or anything even close to touching on food safety — simply misinformation which impugned a low-fat and healthy product,” Taylor said. “If we want the price of food to go up for those on a fixed income, then we will do nothing on this issue. And if we are content watching an enormous hit to economic development, then we will do nothing.”
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and the governors of Kansas and Texas will be at the South Sioux City plant today and Branstad has told reporters he’ll eat the product in front of the media to prove it’s safe.
“The time for badmouthing and distortions is over,” Branstad said yesterday afternoon during a news conference. “The time for the truth to prevail and combat this ugly situation that we currently find ourselves in is here.”
Executives at Tyson Foods — the nation’s largest supplier of beef products — say overall demand for beef has slumped since this controversy began and the nationwide supply of ground beef is likely to drop by about three percent.