Beef Products Inc.

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Beef Products Inc. (BPI) is an American meat processing company based in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. It is the creator of a product called "lean finely textured beef," also known as "pink slime."



Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is made from beef trimmings removed after meat has been manually cut from the carcass. BPI uses a patented process to enhance the pH in these trimmings with ammonium hydroxide, which reduces the incidence of E. coli and other bacteria in downstream products.[citation needed]

In 2004, the product was approved for human consumption, having previously been used for pet food and cooking oil.[1]. The trimmings are warmed, put through a centrifuge to remove fat, then treated with ammonia to increase pH and kill bacteria.[2][3] The product is ground as a lean meat source in finished ground beef, usually constituting no more than 25 percent of the final product.[4][5] Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Safety Institute for the Consumer Federation of America, and Nancy Donley, president of the industry-funded group Safe Tables Our Priority, are strong backers of this technology-based approach to food safety.[5][6] Journalists, however, have questioned the safety of meat treated with the process.[7][8] This process is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.[9]


Beef Products Inc. was established in 1981 by its current CEO Eldon Roth.[5][10] It was a major supplier to McDonald's and Burger King,[7] as well as restaurants and grocery stores, and its products were reportedly used in 75% of the United States' hamburger patties in 2008.[5] The School Lunch Program, another large buyer of Beef Product's goods, used about 5.5 million pounds in 2009.[7][11] Using LFTB shaved about three cents off the cost of a pound of ground beef.[citation needed]

In 2007, the company was exempted from inspection by USDA.[7]

In 2009, the New York Times reported that as early as 2003, school lunch officials and other customers had complained the product tasted and smelled like ammonia, after which the company devised a plan to make a less alkaline version. The USDA afterwards determined that at least some of BPI's product was no longer receiving "the full lethality treatment," and the Times reported that BPI's products had tested positive for E. coli three times and salmonella 48 times since 2005. This prompted the USDA to revoke the exemption and review the company's practices.[7]

In July 2011, in the aftermath of an E. coli outbreak in Germany, Beef Products Inc. began voluntarily testing its products for six additional strains of E. coli contamination.[12]

In early 2012, the company received widespread press coverage over its product.[13] This led to concern amongst the public, pressuring McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, Safeway, and several other grocery stores to abandon the product.[14][15][16][17] Company officials suspended production at three of its four plants.[18] The company also launched a public relations offensive with the help of governors Rick Perry, Terry Branstad, and Sam Brownback, who joined ABC News on a tour of the remaining plant.[6] Despite their efforts, however, Beef Products Inc. closed its facilities in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo, Iowa on 25 May 2012.[14] On September 13, 2012, the company announced it is suing ABC News for $1.2 billion in a defamation lawsuit.[19]


  1. ^ Levenstein, Harvey (2012). Fear of food : a history of why we worry about what we eat. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 59. ISBN 0226473740. 
  2. ^ "Anatomy of a Burger". New York Times. 4 Oct. 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Burger that Shattered Her Life". New York Times. 3 Oct. 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Avila, Jim (8 Mar. 2012). "Is Pink Slime in the Beef at Your Grocery Store?". ABC News. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Engineering a Safe Burger". The Washington Post. June 12, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Avila, Jim (29 Mar. 2012). "'Dude, It's Beef!': Governors Tour Plant, Reject 'Pink Slime' Label". ABC News. Retrieved 1 Apr. 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Moss, Michael (December 30, 2009). "Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-02. "The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella." 
  8. ^ Bob Cesca (4 Jan. 2010). "I'll have a burger and fries with everything -- hold the ammonia". Daily Finance. Retrieved 22 Jan. 2012. 
  9. ^ Williams, Carol (28 July 2011). "'Pink slime' in burgers stirs debate". ABC News.'Pink-Slime'-debate%3A-What's-in-a-burger%3F. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Leonard, Christopher; Anderson, Mae (1 Jan. 2010). "Consumers back ammonia-treated beef after report". Associated Press. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Neuman, William (15 July 2011). "Food Companies Act to Protect Consumers From E. Coli Illness". New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "'Pink slime': Combo of connective tissue, scraps hidden in your kids’ lunch". Fox News. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Kesmodel, David (8 May 2012). "Beef Products to Shut Plants Over 'Pink Slime' Fallout". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  15. ^ Feran, Tim (23 Mar. 2012). "Kroger, Giant Eagle won’t sell ‘pink slime’ meat". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  16. ^ Gruley, Brian and Elizabeth Campbell (12 Apr. 2012). "The Sliming of Pink Slime's Creator". Businessweek. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Reilly, Jill (27 Jan. 2012). "Victory for Jamie Oliver in the U.S. as McDonald’s is forced to stop using ‘pink slime’ in its burger recipe". Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Blaney, Betsy (26 Mar. 2012). "'Pink slime' maker halts production at some plants". Associated Press. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Meat processor sues ABC News over 'pink slime' reports". USA Today. Retrieved September 13, 2012. 

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