HyVee Responds to Inquiry Regarding Use of Pink Slime

So I wrote HyVee to see if they use “pink slime” in the ground beef I buy at the meat counter. Here is their response:

Dear Mr. O’Neill,

Thank you for contacting Hy-Vee via our website to express your concern about the use of Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) in ground beef.

The term “pink slime” is a derogatory and deliberately inflammatory term used by the media and critics of a product that has been safely used in the beef industry for almost 20 years. Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) is 100 percent beef, 95%+ lean, produced by separating lean meat from fat through a process very similar to the one used to separate cream from milk. Like all beef products, it is strictly regulated and produced in USDA-inspected plants. The USDA does not require ground beef blended with LFTB to be labeled because it’s not a separate ingredient – it’s all 100 percent beef.

All LFTB goes through FDA- and USDA-approved treatment processes to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria like E. coli. One such treatment process uses food-grade ammonium hydroxide gas (ammonia mixed with water). Ammonia is a compound consisting of nitrogen and hydrogen, found naturally in the environment and in all plants and animals, including humans. Ammonium hydroxide was declared safe by the FDA for use in food processing in 1974 and is used on a variety of products, including baked goods, puddings, cheeses and chocolates. It was approved for use in beef processing in 2001.

The vast majority of ground beef sold in supermarkets, as well as much of the ground beef sold to schools, hospitals and food service establishments, contains a small amount of LFTB. Use of LFTB reduces food waste and increases the lean content of ground beef. It is a safe, wholesome, 100 percent beef product. If you wish to purchase Hy-Vee ground beef that is not blended with LFTB, we would suggest our 85 Percent Lean Amana Chuck Trim – or you could purchase your choice of beef cuts from our service case and ask our meat specialists to grind it for you. Your Hy-Vee meat specialists will be glad to assist you and answer any questions you have regarding the meat you buy for your family.

Recent reporting on the industry’s use of Lean Finely Textured Beef has been sensational and irresponsible. There are NO health issues associated with use of this product in ground beef. It has been safely and widely used for almost two decades, and the ammonium hydroxide gas treatment process has been safely and widely used for more than a decade. The country’s leading food safety experts agree that the product is not only safe, but beneficial in meeting worldwide demand for quality lean protein.

Thanks for your inquiry. We appreciate you taking the time to write.

Ruth Comer

Assistant Vice President, Media Relations

Hy-Vee, Inc. • 5820 Westown Parkway • West Des Moines, IA 50266

3 Responses to “HyVee Responds to Inquiry Regarding Use of Pink Slime”

  1. mjoneill

    I still find it infuriating that Hy-Vee would position pink slime as a “wholesome” food to be ingesting.

    But if that’s the position they want to stake themselves to, I just propose that they start labeling pink slime-tainted beef with little signs saying, “This product contains LFTB” so that the consumers they serve retain the ability to choose whether or not they want to buy products containing such a vile adjunct.

    How ’bout it, HyVee? If pink slime is as wholesome as you say, why not make it easy for your shoppers to see which products actually contain it…

  2. mjoneill

    Let’s compare Hy-Vee’s contorted response regarding pink-slime with a couple other responses for grocers we shop from:

    Fareway’s Response to Same Letter

    Michael – No, our ground meat does not contain any additives, fillers, or injections.

    Whitney Packebush, RD, LD
    CentsAble Health
    Fareway Stores, Inc.

    How nice it must feel not to have to lie, attack consumers and blame the media for disclosing just what ingredients are being added to our food. Thanks, Fareway, for standing for real wholesome products.

    New Pioneer Food CoOp’s Response
    And of course here’s what NewPi had to say on the matter.

    We grind all of our own hamburger meat from single muscle pieces. So, there is only one cow in your hamburger or one lamb in your lamb burger. And we grind it in our store, fresh. And, we pay health insurance & benefits to our employees. Humane treatment of people and animals benefits food safety.

    Also, from their facebook page:

    Jen Knights, Board member, would like to remind us: “New Pioneer Food Co-op has stated on its Facebook page that it does not carry products containing LFTB.” In a public statement, Hy-Vee calls pink slime “a safe, wholesome, 100 percent beef product.” *shudder*


Leave a Reply