The maker of “pink slime” suspended operations Monday at three of four plants where the beef ingredient is made, saying officials would work to address public concern that has cost the company business.
Craig Letch, director of food quality and assurance for Beef Products Inc., declined to discuss financial details, but acknowledged business has taken a “substantial” hit since social media exploded earlier this month with worry over the product and an online petition seeking its ouster from schools drew hundreds of thousands of supporters.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided school districts may stop using it and some retail chains have pulled products containing it from their shelves.
Federal regulators say the ammonia-treated filler, which has been used for years and is known in the industry as “lean, finely textured beef,” meets food safety standards. But critics call the product an unappetizing example of industrialized food production.
Beef Products will suspend operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kan.; and Waterloo, Iowa, Letch said.
About 200 employees at each of the three plants will get full salary and benefits for 60 days during the suspension. The company’s plant at its Dakota Dunes, S.D., headquarters will continue operations.
The company, meanwhile, will develop a strategy for rebuilding business and addressing what Letch called misconceptions about the beef the company makes.