Three plants that produce the controversial meat known as ‘pink slime’ will close later this month.
It’s estimated that at least 650 jobs will be lost when the plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa are closed by parent company Beef Products Inc. in light of poor sales.
According to the Associated Press:
The plant in Amarillo, Texas, the plant in Garden City, Kansas, and the one in Waterloo, Iowa will close on May 25. A plant in South Sioux City, Nebraska, will remain open but run at reduced capacity.
The South Dakota-based company blamed the closures on what it said were unfounded attacks over its lean, finely textured beef.
During its processing, bits of beef are heated and treated with a small amount of ammonia to kill bacteria. The filler has been used for years and meets federal food safety standards.
But the company suspended operations at the three plants in March amid public uproar over the filler.
BPI has declined to discuss financial details, but has said it took a ‘substantial’ hit after social media exploded with worry over the product and an online petition seeking its ouster from schools drew hundreds of thousands of supporters.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided that school districts may stop using it, and some retail chains have pulled products containing it from their shelves.
Company officials had hoped to recover but have since realized that doing so wasn’t possible in the near future.
Company spokesman Rich Jochum said in a statement:
“We will continue communicating the benefits of BPI’s lean beef, but that process is much more difficult than (countering) the campaign to spread misinformation that brought us to this point.”
The phrase ‘pink slime,’ coined by a federal microbiologist, has appeared in the media at least since a critical 2009 New York Times report.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has railed against it, and it made headlines after McDonald’s and other major chains discontinued their use last year.
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