LFTB Flap. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

What is in a name? A good name can be as influential as a bad one. Who would have bought movie tickets to see Leonard Sly chase the bad guys on the silver screen. But we bought a whole lot of them to see Roy Rogers. Then there was the Toyota/Chevrolet designed car back in the 80’s that originally was called the Toylet...I actually owned a couple of them after they were renamed the Chevette. Kind of laughable but when it comes to our health or food products a name can be very detrimental. Remember the swine flu? The pork industry is still coping with the negative affects of that one. Now of course it is the “pink slime.” The term was coined by an FSIS scientist back in 2002. But what is “pink slime” really. Lean Finely Textured Beef or LFTB is a beef filler made from...100% beef byproducts that has been treated with ammonia to kill e.coli and salmonella. The beef industry argues that Finely Textured Lean Beef has gotten a bad rap from the media calling it pink slime. Texas A & M’s Center for Food Safety Director Gary Acuff says it is 100-percent beef and 100-percent safe.

ACUFF: It’s not pink slime, it’s just lean beef. It’s finely textured is the name so it’s because it has been separated from fat trimming.

But what is real problem? It seems to stem from the use of ammonia.

ACUFF: It’s an ammonia gas, it’s not a liquid or anything. It’s an ammonia gas and it’s a small amount that’s puffed into the meat to help raise the ph and that makes it very uncomfortable for any pathogens to live.

Acuff says it will take 1.5-million cows to replace the loss of the product if it is taken off the market. Yesterday Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack along with Iowa Governor Branstad held a press conference to set the record straight.

VILSACK: This product is safe. There’s no question about it. We’ve said that repeatedly, we’ll continue to say it. Secondly. As the Governor indicated this product is also a leaner beef product. It’s one of the reasons why we have made it a staple of the school lunch program because we are, as the Governor is concerned about obesity levels. This is an opportunity for us to make sure that youngsters are receiving a product that is lean and contains less fat.

What is your take on Lean Finely Textured Beef? I’d love to hear your comments. Is it just a bad name for a safe product that has been around for years...or is it something else?
That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.

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