March 22, 2012
Giant Food has become the latest in an increasingly long list of national supermarket chains that have decided to stop buying ground beef that contains the filler now known as "pink slime."
Federal regulators say the filler, known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," meets food safety standards. But critics say the product could be unsafe and is an unappetizing example of industrialized food production.
In a statement released Thursday, Giant Food announced it will no longer purchase fresh ground beef containing finely textured beef.
"While USDA, the Department of Agriculture, has indicated this product is safe for consumption and complies with all applicable standards for lean beef, many of our customers have voiced concern regarding Finely Textured Beef. We value the trusted relationship we have with our customers and their feedback on this issue," the Landover, Md.-based company wrote.
Public outcry over "pink slime" has grown sharply as images, media reports and online petitions about it have spread.
The low-cost additive, which has been used for years, is made from fatty bits of leftover meat that are heated, spun to remove the fat, compressed into blocks and exposed to ammonia to kill bacteria. Producers often mix the ammonia-treated filler into fattier meat to produce an overall leaner product and reduce their costs.
Also on Thursday, supermarket chains Kroger Co. and Stop & Shop said they will join the growing list of store chains that will no longer sell beef that includes an additive with the unappetizing moniker "pink slime."
Supervalu Inc. -- which operates owns stores under the Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw's/Star Market, Shop `n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy banners -- said Wednesday that customer concern also prompted it to stop carrying products containing the filler.
The Food Lion chain, owned by the Belgian Delhaize Group, also said Wednesday that it plans to stop carrying fresh ground beef with either of two similar fillers. Food Lion also operates Bloom, Harveys and Reid's stores.
Safeway Inc., which operates the Genuardi's and Dominicks chains, as well as Safeway stores, said Wednesday that it also has announced it will stop selling fresh or frozen ground beef with the filler.
Other stores have come out in recent days saying either that they never sold beef with the filler or they plan to stop doing so. "Our ground beef vendors do not use an ammonium hydroxide treatment in their production processes," Target said in a statement. "Any additional questions can be directed to vendors."
Whole Foods, A&P and Costco also said they have never sold beef products with the additive.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this month that, beginning in the fall, the National School Lunch Program will let school districts decide whether to buy ground beef that contains the filler. Previously, it was difficult for schools to know whether beef they bought from the feds had it or not.
As a result, a number of schools have said they will stop using meat with the controversial filler.