March 28, 2012
Washington,DC--NCL believes that the announcement by Beef Products Inc. that the company will suspend operations at three plants is unfortunate. BPI and its CEO, Eldon Roth, have been forced to close the plants because of business the company has lost to very serious misinformation, widely disseminated by the media, about its product, lean finely textured beef (LFTB). The misinformation has unduly harmed a company—and its employees-- that is recognized as an industry leader in food safety.
Food scientists and consumer organizations agree that LFTB is safe: BPI pioneered food safety interventions to significantly reduce the risk of pathogens inthe meat they produced. Their use of ammonia in small amounts was used to reduce the risk of pathogenic E. coli in their product, and these levels never have posed a health risk to consumers.
BPI also pioneered “test and hold” which ensures that nothing leaves the plant until it has passed rigorous safety testing. BPI was one of the first companies to voluntarily test for six additional deadly strains of pathogenic E. coli. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has now adopted test and hold for products the agency tests, and last year FSIS announced that it would consider the six additional strains of E. coli as adulterants in ground beef.
BPI employs around 3,000 employees, whose jobs either have been or will be lost with the suspension of operations. Seven hundred employees have already lost their jobs. This is tragic, as they have been harmed by a completely unfounded conclusion that their product is not safe. The beef that will replace BPI’s product will most likely come from overseas and thus the closing of the plants will ship jobs overseas∙
NCL, whose mission is to protect consumers and workers, believes that both have been seriously harmed by the assault against its integrity that BPI has suffered. NCL is in agreement with the Consumer Federation of America that manufacturers of hamburger patties may replace LFTB with something that has not been processed to assure the same level of safety. CFA also expressed concerns that NCL shares about the potential effect this recent controversy may have on companies who seek to apply innovative solutions and new technologies to enhance food safety.
From NCL’s standpoint, the record must be corrected. The public has been ill-served by faulty information about this product that was based on conclusions of those who are not experts in food safety. An estimated 3,000 people could lose jobs as a result of BPI going out of business. The company has suspended the jobs of 650 workers to date.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.