Dakota Dunes, SD: Beef Products Inc., the maker of lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) dubbed "pink slime" by the media and critics of its use, announced it would permanently shutter operations in three of its four operating plants.
The announcement comes after the company could not recover from the media frenzy that resulted in decreased consumer demand for its product.
According to a company spokesperson, approximately 650 jobs will be lost when operations stop on May 25 in Amarillo, TX; Garden City, KS; and Waterloo IA. A plant in South Sioux City, NE, will remain open, but run at reduced capacity.
The food additive, approved for use by the USDA, is created by combining beef trimmings, heating them to remove most of the fat, and treating them with ammonia hydroxide gas to kill potentially dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
On March 26, the company suspended operations at the three plants as media attention and public outcry about the use of the filler escalated. Its ripple effect was strong: retailers and foodservice companies vowed to discontinue using LFTB, and USDA told schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to opt out of purchasing ground beef products with the additive.
Iowa's Gov. Terry Branstad called it a sad day for his state.
"The fact that a false, misleading smear campaign can destroy a company's reputation overnight should disturb us all," he said.
"Unfortunately, we have learned that what a ruinous smear campaign accomplishes overnight can take years to correct. I want those workers who now face the daunting task of finding a new job to know that my administration will always fight for them. Today they go home to their families and will soon be without a job, all because some media on the coasts decided to unfairly and viciously smear the product they so proudly produced."
"Our thoughts and hearts go out to the people at BPI, Inc. We continue to stand with you, and will always do so proudly."