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Dear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Christopher L. Jorgensen
P.O. Box 546
Ames, IA 50010


May 5, 2012


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250


Dear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack,

I want to commend you on your attempts to reclaim “lean finely textured beef” from the more descriptive term “pink slime.” I admire a man that isn’t afraid to get a little futility on his hands. You remind me of the ingenious gentleman of La Mancha! I would like to save you some time though and let you know this is already a lost battle. You can call it what you like, you can dress it up as something fancy, but in the end people are not going to seek out something branded as pink slime. You’re tilting at windmills!

An informed consumer is a happy consumer. Happy consumers are willing to pay a premium. I don’t see why the industry opposes the idea of labeling meat in the manner in which it is processed and prepared. Put a label on one pound of ground beef that says, “Contains lean finely textured beef,” label another pound as “100% ground chuck,” price accordingly and let the consumer decide.

I would eat more meat if I knew how the animal was raised, how it was slaughtered, how the cut I was purchasing was prepared, and what was in it. Just don’t expect me to buy anything that contains pink slime (no matter how cheap). Not giving me this choice seems like someone else is trying to make decisions for me. This is about as appealing as the idea of Alicia Silverstone feeding me dinner.


Sincerely,


Christopher L. Jorgensen

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Reply:

USDA
United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and
Inspection Service
Washington, D. C. 20250


May 30 2012


Mr. Christopher L. Jorgensen
PO Box 546
Ames, Iowa 50010

Dear Mr. Jorgensen:

Thank you for your letter of May 5, 2012, to Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack regarding lean finely textured beef (LFTB), referred to in some media outlets as “pink slime.”  Your letter has been forwarded to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for a response.

FSIS is the public health regulatory agency in the Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled.  FSIS enforces the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act, which require Federal inspection and regulation of meat, poultry, and processed egg products prepared for distribution in commerce for use as human food.

USDA continues to affirm the safety of LFTB and urges consumers to consult science-based information on the safety and quality of this product.  LFTB—which is meat, not filler—is derived from a process that separates fatty pieces from beef trimmings to reduce the overall fat content.

You expressed concerns about labeling, as well.  Although this labeling is not required, some producers provide information on the label on how the animal used to derive the product was raised.  Others provide information on the label on whether the product contains LFTB.

As for ingredient labeling, FSIS regulations require that all ingredients be declared in descending order of predominance in the product’s ingredient statement.  Furthermore, FSIS regulations require that ground beef “consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders” (Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 319.15(a)).  Ground beef product is 100 percent beef that may contain seasonings.

Ensuring complete and accurate labeling is an important part of FSIS’ mission, and this is why the Agency works continually to educate processors on maintaining label accuracy and to advise consumers on making informed product decisions.  More information on these efforts and FSIS labeling requirements can be found on FSIS’ Web site at
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/LabelingGuidance/index.asp.

Again, thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Rachel A. Edelstein
Acting Assistant Administrator
Office of Policy and Program Development

Protecting public health by preventing foodborne illnesses is
FSIS’ top priority.

Help protect your family.  Check Your Steps at
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/
and get ready to Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

Food safety is important to everyone.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack website: www.usda.gov/bios_vilsack.xml

Scan of the letter from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Scan of the letter from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Commentary:

“Your letter has been forwarded to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for a response.”

I waited for three months for my response, but by the time I realized the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wasn’t going to respond I’d misplaced the response from the USDA.

Do your own research. I’m not going to take a stance on “pink slime.” I think people should be able to eat whatever the hell they want, but I do think products should be labeled, so you know where the animal was raised, how it was raised, what drugs it was given, how it was slaughtered, what the animal’s diet consisted of, what part of the animal you are eating, how many different animals you are eating, etc.

This information is deliberately hidden though. Many cows from far flung geographical areas can all come together to produce your ground beef. Screw that.

Tell me what I am eating and I might buy it. Hide this stuff and I’ll pass. It’s not hard.

I love farmers. I want to support them. If the product doesn’t have a farm name on it saying the animal was raised in an ethical way and killed humanely I’m not supporting it. I’ll buy something that does.

By Christopher L. Jorgensen

Website: http://jackassletters.com

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Christopher L. Jorgensen
PO Box 546
Ames, IA 50010

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