In recent weeks, â€œpink slimeâ€ oozed from the headlines.
While commissary officials assure customers that the lean finely textured beef antibacterial process has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration for decades, the officials made the decision recently to phase out these products in response to customer concerns.
â€œAlthough the USDA continues to assure us this process is safe, we have listened to our customers and modified our contracts to require that our ground beef suppliers only sell us products not treated with the LFTB process,â€ said Chris Burns, the Defense Commissary Agency director of sales at DeCA Headquarters in Fort Lee, Va.
The process will be complete by the end of the month. In the meantime, commissaries are carrying USDA organic ground beef or USDA all-natural ground beef, neither of which has pink slime.
â€œAll stores are scheduled to have these modified contracts in place by the end of May 2012,â€ Burns said.
The decision to replace ground-beef products that use pink slime came as a result of an outpour of concern from recent months of media broadcasts on the subject. Despite concerns and unflattering descriptions of the antibacterial process, the ground beef industry officials insists that pink slime is safe, and even beneficial, to a consumer.
The American Meat Institute, a trade association for the fresh meat industry, reports that the use of pink slime has contributed to a 55 to 60 percent decrease in the occurrence of E. coli. Additionally, it has made use of lean meat that would otherwise be wasted.
Regardless, it will be replaced, officials said.
â€œFirst and foremost, the commissary is a quality-of-life benefit for military customers, and it is important to us that we provide a balanced product assortment that meets the needs of our customers,â€ Burns said.