No more “pink slime” in schools.
The outcry from social media has shut down the makers of "pink slime," as they suspended their operations Monday at all but one plant where the beef ingredient is made.
Craig Letch, director of food quality and assurance for Beef Products Inc., said the business has taken a "substantial" hit since social media exploded with worry over the ammonia-treated filler and an online petition received numerous signatures seeking its removal from schools.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided school districts may stop using it and some retail chains have pulled products containing it from their shelves.
Federal regulators say the product is safe to eat and meets food safety standards, but critics call the product an unappetizing example of industrialized food production.
According to the Associated Press, beef Products will suspend operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kan.; and Waterloo, Iowa, Letch said. About 200 employees at each of the three plants will get full salary and benefits for 60 days during the suspension. The company's plant at its Dakota Dunes, S.D., headquarters will continue operations.
The company, meanwhile, will develop a strategy for rebuilding business and addressing what Letch called misconceptions about the beef the company makes.
Letch went on to say that:
"We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back. It's 100 percent beef."
Beef Products' plant in Amarillo produced about 200,000 pounds a day, while the Kansas and Iowa plants each produced about 350,000 pounds a day.
The USDA this year is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. About 7 million pounds of that is from the company.