I am writing to thank The Herald for covering our beef promotion event at Country Mart and for the April 18 story on lean finely textured beef or, as the media scare coined it, pink slime.
I hope consumers of beef continue to seek the truth about this completely healthy product. The University of Arkansas studied this before the public scare hit major media outlets. There, scientists’ findings were very favorable toward lean finely textured beef: It was found to be leaner, more economical for consumers and had traces of antioxidants on top of finding no negative effects for human consumption.
The sad part of this story is that while the flames of this wildfire were flaring, the scientists behind this research were never contacted by media outlets for comment on their findings. I have toured Beef Products Inc., the maker of “pink slime.” I was extremely impressed with their operation; the cleanliness was second to none. I would prefer to be operated on in their production areas. This product is not a Frankenstein meat. It still is beef trimmings after all.
Another tragedy of this false story involves the hundreds of BPI employees who were laid off because of a subsequent drop in demand for the product. We also will never quite know how much it cost cattlemen who were dealt a demand blow for beef.
In a related type of scare, today’s headlines include a confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a California dairy cow. The animal was found by U.S. Department of Agriculture testing at a rendering plant, which is nowhere near our food chain. The remains were completely destroyed, and the disease is not transmitted through the milk. The system worked.
We should thank USDA for implementing this testing since the 2003 BSE scare. Last year, there was 29 confirmed cases worldwide, a 99-percent reduction since 1992. It is nearly eradicated. Oh, I should mention BSE also is called “mad cow disease,” a label with a much more intimidating ring to it, similar to pink slime. Unfortunately for beef producers, the market had a knee-jerk reaction and dropped the $3 per 100 pounds limit. This often is the difference between making a little money and losing money for producers with razor-thin margins. For more information on BSE, go to www.bseinfo.org
The modern-day cattleman has much to be concerned with — most of which he or she cannot control, including markets, trade embargoes and especially the weather. Consumers of beef can rest assured in the safety, high quality and lean healthful attributes of beef.
With this break in prices, it would be a great time to buy beef for lunch and dinner. Enjoy!
— Aaron Dunbar, local cattle producer