Our man Porter raises a meaty development. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has changed its interpretation of policy and decided that BPI can label its “Lean Finely Textured Beef”—the slaughterhouse leavings that BPI processes into an edible pink slime—as “ground beef”:
After a months-long evaluation, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) determined in December that BPI’s signature product—the offering famously called “pink slime” in an ABC News exposé that got the network in a lot of trouble—can be labeled “ground beef.” Legally speaking, it’s now no different from ordinary hamburger, and could even be sold directly to the public.
“After reviewing BPI’s submission of a new product and new production process, FSIS determined that the product meets the regulatory definition of ground beef under the law in 9 CFR 319.15(a) and may be labeled accordingly,” a FSIS spokesperson told me, in an emailed statement.
…Since 1994, the government’s stance has been clear. Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) has been a “qualified component” of hamburger, meaning it can be included in ground beef without being independently disclosed. But it could not itself be called ground beef, suggesting that, in the eyes of regulators it was something else—a padding or additive, but not the real deal [Joe Fassler, “ABC News Called It ‘Pink Slime.’ Now, USDA Says It Can Be Labeled ‘Ground Beef’,” New Food Economy, 2019.02.07].
So what once was ground beef filler will now itself be called ground beef.
In a fascinating coincidence, Senator Arthur Rusch (R-17/Vermillion) is bringing Senate Bill 68 to Senate Agriculture (and Natural Resources) tomorrow morning. SB 68 would add this language to Chapter 39-4 on Adulterated and Misbranded Foods:
A food product shall be deemed to be misbranded if the product is labeled or branded in a false, deceptive, or misleading manner that misrepresents the product as a meat food product as defined in § 39-5-6, a meat by-product as defined in § 39-5-6, or as poultry.For the purposes of this title, the term, poultry, includes anything containing meat intended for or capable of use for human consumption, that is derived, in whole or in part, from any domesticated bird intended for human consumption [Senate Bill 68, as filed 2019.01.23].