Mythbusters: Pink Slime

Back from the dead, the term “Pink Slime” has made headlines again after a decision made by USDA to allow Lean, Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) to be labeled as ground beef.

Here’s the who, what, where, when, and why about LFTB:


Who makes LFTB?

Many beef processing companies make lean, finely textured beef using the under-utilized lean meat that is too difficult to trim by hand off of whole muscle cuts. Fat makes it way into the meat and layers on top of the meat which can cause sections to be cut off while trimming, this meat is still a valuable nutritional product and deserves to be used.


What is LFTB?

Lean, finely textured beef is a product made from trimmings of whole muscle cuts. The trimmings are inspected, lightly heated to soften the fat, and then the meat and fat are separated using centrifugal force (Basically, by spinning). The meat portion is then incorporated into other products, such as ground beef, while the fat byproduct is used in a number of industries. The LFTB product is treated with food-safe chemicals to prevent any food-borne pathogens from entering the food supply chain, these chemicals vary by company but all are 100% safe.


Where can I find LFTB?

LFTB is not a product that is generally marketed by itself. Not because it isn’t safe, or nutritious, or simply not good, but because it is not a product that consumers generally want to purchase alone. The texture is slightly different than typical ground meat and definitely could not be mistaken for a whole muscle cut like steak, as of now the product is almost exclusively found in ground meat. LFTB is a great addition for ground meat since it allows us to cater to consumers wants and needs. Using LFTB the industry can easily and efficiently deliver ground beef products with varying fat contents, suitable for every dietary need out there.


When did using LFTB start?

LFTB has been around for nearly 30 years, with the process first starting out in the 1990’s. It is nothing new to the industry, but as processes and science advances, sometimes we have to address these through legislation, which is why we are seeing the rise of “pink slime” headlines again. Legislation protects the beef industry from mislabeling or misidentifying products and helps ensure the public that the food they are eating is wholesome and nutritious, and most importantly, safe.


Why do we even use LFTB?

LFTB is the perfect product to make catered ground beef products. Do you have a preference in ground beef fat content? A lot of people do, some buy 15%, 10%, or 5% fat ground beef, based on their personal choices and dietary needs. LFTB helps to make the perfect mix of fat and lean meat in a way that maximizes beef, natural resources, and production efficiency.

As science and technology has advanced the industry has developed ways to utilize resources that before would have been impossible or not cost effective. With the use of LFTB we can provide 25 pounds more beef per animal! With the ever growing world population and need to efficiently utilize resources, LFTB is a safe and affordable way to provide more nutrients with less resources.


Still have questions? Check out these resources to see exactly how LFTB is made and why it is a great option for your family:


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Posted: March 4, 2019

Category: Agriculture, Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, Health & Nutrition, Livestock, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Food Safety, NFLAG

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