Governors tour BPI plant

March 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb., March 30 (UPI) -- Governors from three states toured Beef Products Inc.'s Nebraska plant in a show of support for lean finely textured beef.

BPI closed three of its four plants after a campaign against the product, dubbed "pink slime" by its critics, caused a consumer backlash. BPI has started fighting back with a massive public relations campaign.

"Let's call this product what it is and let 'pink slime' become a term of the past," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday after the tour. "Dude, it's beef!"

Perry was joined by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on a tour of the facility where beef trimmings containing fat and connective tissue are processed.

The trimmings are put through centrifuges to separate the meat from the fat and then through pipes, where ammonium hydroxide gas is used to kill E.coli and other bacteria before it is packaged for use in ground beef. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not require that ground beef containing lean, finely textured beef be labeled any differently from meat that does not contain the product.

The product has been used for years in fast food hamburgers, school lunches and 70 percent of all ground beef sold at grocery stores, ABC News said.

"It's beef, but it's leaner beef which is better for you," Branstad said. "We take this off the market then we end up with a fatter product that's going to cost more and is going to increase the obesity problem in this country."

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