The Salt
12:04 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Wal-Mart And Grocers Agree To Stop Selling 'Pink Slime'

Last week, we reported that the U.S Department of Agriculture decided it would give school food administrators alternatives to meat containing lean finely textured beef, also known as LFTB, or "pink slime" by its detractors.

Now, Wal-Mart has become the latest food retailer to announce that it's making changes after listening to customer concerns about LFTB.

"While the USDA and experts agree that it is safe and nutritious, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club will begin offering fresh ground beef that does not contain LFTB," writes Deisha Galberth Barnett, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, in a statement.

The announcement comes amid a flurry of similar announcements from other retailers this week.

An estimated 70 percent of the ground beef supply contains the lean trimmings of meat derived from muscle and connective tissue that make up LFTB. But chances are you won't find it on the ingredient list at the grocery store because it doesn't have to be labeled.

The safety concerns stem from reports that the lean beef trimmings can harbor pathogens, such as E. coli or Salmonella and other bacteria. An outpouring of opposition to the product — from petition signatures to social media chatter — helped influence USDA to change its policy on LFTB purchases.

Earlier this week Safeway also announced that it will no longer purchase fresh or frozen ground beef that contains LFTB for its stores' meat departments.

This includes pre-made burger patties you'd find in the frozen food aisle, according to a Safeway spokesperson. Like Wal-Mart, Safeway acknowledged that experts believe the product is safe and wholesome. But it too has felt compelled to stop buying it to assuage concerned consumers.

Kroger, the Cincinnati-based chain, said today it would also eliminate LFTB from its meat section.

And Costco shoppers: It turns out the ground beef you've been buying has never contained LFBT. And why? "Not a safety concern at all," explained Costco in an email response to the Salt. "It never [met] our quality requirements."

We know this is an incomplete list of retailer reactions, so feel free to share others. And check out this post from ABC, which includes several others.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.