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'Pink slime' company suspends operations at some plants

Packages of ground beef are seen in this undated file photo.
March 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The company that makes ground beef with the filler known as "pink slime" is suspending operations at three of its four plants.

Beef Products Inc. says the suspensions are taking place at plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa. The plant in South Dakota will continue its operations.

"We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back," said Craig Letch, the company's director of food safety and quality assurance. "It's 100 percent beef."

Several major supermarket chains around the country have pulled the product from their shelves, including Kroger, which operates Ralphs and Food 4 Less, and Supervalu, which operates Albertsons and Lucky, and Safeway.

The filler, officially called "lean finely textured beef," is waste trimmings that undergo a process to separate muscle from fat. The mixture is then sprayed with ammonia to kill bacteria, and added to ground beef as a cheaper filler.

"Lean finely textured beef" meets USDA standards, but critics say it's unsafe and less nutritious than fresh ground beef.

The product has been used for years, but a recent ABC News investigation found that 70 percent of ground beef sold in the U.S. contains "pink slime." The trimmings do not have to be on listed on the label.


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