Back in August I wrote about ABC News reporter Jim Avila’s manufactured scandal on beef, specifically, lean beef trimmings that are processed, cleansed of harmful bacteria, and sold (inexpensive and safe, all government-approved) for use in hamburger patties, sausages, and other products. In the trade, it is known as “lean finely textured beef,” a nutritious product created by innovation and technology, affording employment to hundreds of people in several plants operated by Beef Products Inc. But courtesy of ABC News, LFTB became known nationally overnight as “pink slime.” Sounds yummy: chemical-laced wanna-garbage the beef folks are trying to sell to a dimwitted public.
The famous “alar” apple scare had nothing on the ensuing bad publicity – immediate and harsh – that slimed Beef Products. Within a month, the company lost 80 percent of its business and was forced to lay off hundreds and shut three plants. Iowa State University economists Dermot Hayes and Daniel Otto assessed the damage: over 600 direct jobs lost, 2,000 total jobs kyboshed when dependent industries (transport, retail, et al.) are factored, communities devastated by the plant closures, and an overall hit to the U.S. economy of $273 million. Plus the replacement of the lean beef with fattier material (where is Michele Obama when you need her?).