Another clueless, airhead model

Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Funny from the American Meat Institute

by: Jill Richardson 

 The American Meat Institute sent out a press release to help journalists deal with its "pink slime" problem. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to use that word. Its "lean finely-textured beef" problem. By the way, they didn't mean for it to be funny. Here's what they sent out: 

From: Eric Mittenthal
Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 11:52 AM
To: Eric Mittenthal
Cc: Janet Riley
Subject: Newsroom Advisory: Glossary of Terms for Media to Use and Avoid in Coverage of Lean Finely Textured Beef 

Contact: Janet Riley
Eric Mittenthal

Newsroom Advisory:
Glossary of Terms for Media to Use and Avoid in Coverage of Lean Finely Textured Beef.


Throughout the extensive coverage of lean finely textured beef (LFTB), journalists have often used incorrect terms to describe the product, how it's made and its role in the beef supply. This guide is a quick reference for use when covering news related to LFTB.

 The United States Department of Agriculture defines LFTB as beef.  For that reason, terms such as filler, binder, additive or ingredient are not accurate when describing LFTB in the context of adding it to ground beef.  Additional facts about LFTB and how it is made are available here.

Proper Terms:
Lean Finely Textured Beef: This product is produced by Beef Products,  Inc.  More detail is available at

Finely Textured Beef: This product is produced by Cargill.  More detail is available at

Beef: Both LFTB and FTB are defined as beef by USDA.
Product: Just as a steak or roast are considered a product of a company, LFTB and FTB are products of BPI and Cargill respectively.

Improper Terms:
Pink Slime: While this term has been commonly used to describe LFTB, there is nothing slimy about it.  The negative connotation of the phrase "pink slime" shows bias and is inappropriate to describe a wholesome, safe, nutritious and USDA inspected beef product.

Filler: According to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, if a product is labeled as "Hamburger,"  it can contain all beef or beef and beef fat.  Other permitted ingredients include dry seasonings, such as spices and flavorings.  Water (and other liquids) and fillers (e.g., breadcrumbs and flours) are not permitted.  Products including the latter ingredients may be called "Beef Patties" and the added ingredients must be listed on the label.  Hamburger must meet the standard of identity in USDA regulations, 9 CFR 319.15(b).

Binder: A gelatinous substance contained in the muscle tissue that tends to bind materials in sausage emulsions.  Cereal flours, dried skim milk, etc. are also used for this purpose.

Extender: An additive other than meat that increases weight and changes the texture of sausage products, e.g., cereal, flour.  Binders are also extenders.

Additive: A food additive is defined in Section 201(s) of the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetic Act as any substance, the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristic of any food (including any substance intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food; and including any source of radiation intended for any such use.  Additives are used for flavor and appeal, food preparation and processing, freshness, and safety.  To use or market a substance as a food additive, a company must first file a petition with the Food and Drug Administration outlining the tests that prove the substance to be safe under the proposed conditions of use.  If it is approved as safe under those proposed conditions, FDA prescribes in its regulations, the types of foods in which the additive may be used and how it may be used.  An additive is fundamentally different than the product to which is it is added.  Examples of additives include antioxidants, thickeners, curing agents, flavor enhancers and more.
 Eric Mittenthal
Vice President, Public Affairs
American Meat Institute
National Hot Dog & Sausage Council