With all the controversy about finely textured lean beef, the industry has rightly responded by providing good science to explain why these technologies are used to benefit consumers. However, we continue to fool ourselves about the drivers behind these controversies.
The following quote, which I pulled out of an opinion piece this week, I think encapsulates the battle our industry faces in the public arena:
“We can't forget that the majority of ground beef in the U.S., even if free of said ‘slime’, comes from animals (35 million beef cattle, to be exact) that are treated miserably, processed by employees under horrible working conditions, and severely damages the environment. And, of course, there are also the rampant recalls and food safety concerns.”
I can’t begin to explain to you the motivation of these kinds of activists. I read their propaganda almost every day in hopes of gaining that insight, but they are simply anti-modern agriculture, anti-corporate, anti-livestock, anti-trade and anti-capitalist; and they are linked and committed. In their minds, they are making the world a better place, it is a war, and – for whatever reason – we are the enemy!
This individual’s whole point was that pink slime shouldn’t be a concern; it’s merely a symptom and the focus should be on the problem. In their mind, the problem is modern agriculture and free markets.
Of course, we must refute the inaccuracies with sound science, and we have to realize that we’ll never change the thinking of these activists. We’re all merely competing to shape the opinions of the open-minded majority who aren’t directly involved with our industry.
Nevertheless, we’re foolish to think that the masses are going to take the time to sort through the specifics and nuances of competing scientific studies. The perceptions of pink slime and premature death will trump any amount of logic and scientific data to the contrary.