A show of support for a Siouxland company -- under fire for its product, lean finely textured beef. Leaders of five states, the USDA and a food safety group, rallied around a Siouxland company accused of producing a product tagged with a derogatory, two-word name.More >>
Five state leaders-- governors from Iowa, Texas and Kansas with lieutenant governors from Nebraska and South Dakota-- toured BPI for about 30 minutes. They saw first hand how Lean Finely Textured Beef is made at Beef Products Inc.'s South Sioux City, Neb. plant.More >>
Despite all the support shown from the Governors and the community on Thursday, the reality is there are hundreds of BPI employees in limbo. The company suspended operations at three plants and limited operations at its fourth in South Sioux City, Nebraska.More >>
USDA officials said at the press conference in South Sioux City, Nebraska on Thursday that BPI beef is tested among the same standards as other meat.More >>
"Dude, it's Beef!" said Rick Sheehy, Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska.
It became a theme as leaders from several states gathered in South Sioux City, Nebraska to back Beef Products Incorporated.
That sentiment also dots the landscape. Yard signs put up along Dakota Avenue carry the same slogan of support.
The company and its prime product have come under fire in recent weeks. Its Lean, Finely Textured Beef, has been dubbed a derogatory name by some in the national media.
BPI is not only getting community support during their time of need. On Thursday, the company got some high profile support from the leaders of several states.
Iowa Governor Branstad was one of three governors that toured the BPI plant in South Sioux City. He was joined by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Texas Governor Rick Perry, along with Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy and South Dakota Governor Matt Michels.
Our cameras tagged along for the tour. But, before we looked at the plant, the governors gathered in a room to learn about the process and the cuts of meat the company uses.
It was a day to set the record straight. Beef Products Incorporated hosted the leaders from the five states where it has operations.
"We believe that there's been some misinformation that's been portrayed in the mainstream media," said Craig Letch, BPI's Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance
He touted the company's safety record, and the quality of their product
"What we produce is 100% Beef," he said.
To prove that, BPI demonstrated where lean, finely textured beef or LFTB comes from.
"What we're looking at here is lean beef that was just up to and against a roast or a steak," said Letch.
Letch said beef trimmings used to make their product. The company says no visceral parts or organs are used in making LFTB, just trim.
"This is the type of stuff you get everyday?" asked Gov. Brownback. "Yes sir," said Letch.
After suiting up for our tour, we saw beef trimmings coming from the Tyson Fresh Meats plant next door. We also saw the trim is then ground and the fat separators used in the process. According to company officials, a centrifuge basically spins out the excess fat.
An elaborate piping system then delivers what the company calls a "puff" of ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria. The beef product is then pressed on rollers where the meat is immediately frozen.
Letch addressed some consumer concerns about using ammonium hydroxide to kill E.coli.
"Ammonium Hydroxide has been used in food processing since 1974. It is FDA approved., USDA approved, and is in hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of food products across the country," he said. "It is nothing more than something to ensure safety."
The final product is beef that's 94% to 97% lean. It's slightly darker in color without the fat. This LFTB is what processors then put back into their ground beef to make it leaner.
LFTB is not sold directly to consumers, just to processors. That's because of the texture according to Letch. He compared it to salt since salt can be coarse or finely ground. As stated in the name, BPI's product is finely textured beef.