Chains to avoid items with lean finely textured beef

by Jeff Gelski
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CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co., Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Hy-Vee, Inc. and BI-LO Holding all have said they no longer will purchase fresh ground beef containing lean finely textured beef even though it meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture safety standards. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Washington, previously issued a statement on its commitment to health and safety and to the benefits and safety of lean finely textured beef.

The chains cited customer reaction as the reason for their decisions. Cincinnati-based Kroger, which has 2,435 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under 24 local banner names, announced its decision March 22.

“Our customers have expressed their concerns that the use of lean finely textured beef — while fully approved by the U.S.D.A. for safety and quality — is something they do not want in their ground beef,” the company said.

Hy-Vee, Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa, operates 235 retail stores in eight Midwest states. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Quincy, Mass., operates more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. BI-LO Holding operates under the banner names of BI-LO and Winn-Dixie and has 688 grocery stores and 493 in-store pharmacies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“Customer reaction in response to recent reports on lean finely textured beef (has) put into question the U.S.D.A.-approved process,” BI-LO Holding said.

Media reports have used the term “pink slime” in reference to lean finely textured beef. The issue gained media coverage after the U.S.D.A. on March 15 said it would provide schools in the National School Lunch Program with a choice to order product with or without lean finely textured beef.

J.D. Alexander, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, issued a statement on March 15 in response to the U.S.D.A. decision.

“Cattlemen and women nationwide firmly agree with U.S.D.A.’s commitment to ensuring the health and safety of the food served to more than 31 million school children every day,” he said. “The fact remains that lean finely textured beef is a 100% beef product produced from beef trimmings that yields an additional 10 to 12 lbs of lean, nutritious beef from every beef animal.

“The production of lean finely textured beef prevents lean, nutritious beef from being wasted. This lean beef product, like all beef, is naturally rich in nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.”

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