'Pink Slime' Recovers as Beef Prices Surge
'Wall Street Journal' says 2 biggest producers back on track
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2014 6:48 AM CDT
This file photo provided by Beef Products Inc., shows a sample of their lean, finely-textured beef, aka pink slime.   (AP Photo/Beef Products, Inc., File)

(Newser) "Pink slime" may have become the scourge of the meat industry a few years back, but time and rising beef prices can work wonders. The Wall Street Journal reports that the two biggest producers of the product they prefer to call "finely textured beef" have mostly bounced back after sales bottomed out in 2012 amid a flurry of negative media reports. "Two years ago, no one would return our calls," says an exec with Beef Products Inc. "Now some of those same people are calling us unsolicited, and we don't have the sales staff to maintain the new business." And a spokesman for Cargill says, "We're almost recovered from it." A big reason is that ground beef prices have risen 27% in the last two years to about $3.80 a pound.

Cargill, for instance, says it sells to 400 customers in the retail and food-service industries, which is more than before the scandal. The overall amount sold is still lower, however. If you need a refresher, Gizmodo reminds that so-called pink slime "is essentially just beef that's been processed from the cuts of meat that Americans find less desirable, and then treated to kill any possible bacteria present." It's been around a long time, and the government considers it safe. Before the 2012 attention, it was present in about 70% of the ground beef sold in the US, though neither company is offering a new estimate. Meanwhile, BPI's defamation lawsuit against ABC News is moving forward.