One manufacturer of the beef byproduct that's been dubbed "pink slime" said on Monday it was laying off 86 employees, the start of a planned 650-person layoffs after demand bottomed out as customers decided they just couldn't stomach the "finely textured beef."
According to The Associated Press' Grant Schulte Beef Products Inc. says it's the victim of a "campaign of misinformation." While we're not going to go so far as to support that characterization of the unfortunate name their product has garnered (it is pink and slimy, after all), it's pretty clear the stomach-turning buzz has done some damage to companies in an otherwise decent beef market.
BPI said last week it would close three plants and lay off 650 workers, the first of which it let go on Monday. Another supplier of what manufacturers call "lean finely textured beef," AFA Foods, filed for bankruptcy in early April. And as MSNBC.com's Bill Briggs reports, the beef industry is actually doing pretty well aside from the unappetizing figures form makers of the unfortunate alias: "Cattle prices in the first quarter were up 20 percent over year-earlier levels, according to the Agriculture Department, as strong overseas demand has more than offset a steady decline in U.S. consumption."
But not for the boneless beef trimmings additive whose popular name, Phillip Boffey wrote in The New York Times Sunday, was "coined in 2002 in an internal e-mail by the scientist at the Agriculture Department who felt it was not really ground beef." The term actually first appeared in The Times in a 2009 story on beef safety. It's such a catchy term, and the idea of ground up cow bits disinfected by ammonia is just so gross, that there's probably no coming back from the unfortunate branding. However BPI's going to keep making a little of the additive, "and says it hopes to restore public confidence," Boffey says. Most likely that will mean a long campaign to change the popular name from the one we already know.