More than two years after Beef Products Inc. announced it would permanently close three of its four “pink slime” processing plants, the company is reversing course and reopening a Kansas plant.
The maker of “lean finely textured beef,” otherwise known as pink slime, says an uptick in sales and demand for beef fillers resulted in the company reopening a plant, CNN reports.
It’s unclear just who is purchasing the LFTB and what products it might be found in, but BPI’s Garden City, KS, plant, which once employed 230 workers, is expected to open next week with 40 to 45 employees to produce more of the controversial product.
The increased demand for LFTB comes as beef prices have hit record highs because of overseas market demand and drought conditions in the United States. While critics call the pink slime a filler, the USDA defines the product as beef.
The saga of pink slime and BPI began more than two years ago when ABC News ran a report about the beef filler. While critics of the product called it a salvage product made of trimmings formerly used in dog food and cooking oil, BPI maintained that the beef was safe and made without additives or fillers. However, the company did say the product is heated and treated with bacteria-killing ammonia, which doesn’t sound any more appetizing.
Following the ABC report, BPI sales took a huge hit with many former buyers such as McDonald’s, Safeway and other companies discontinuing the use of the filler in their products.
A short time later, in March 2012, the company suspended operations at three plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas. Several months after that the company made the decision to close the plants, eliminating about 650 jobs.
The ordeal culminated in a defamation suit filed by BPI against ABC News, which continues to move slowly through the court system. The suit hinges on the company’s claims that the network published 200 “false and disparaging statements” about the lean finely textured beef product resulting in “substantial” losses for the company.