Cargill are one of the world’s largest producers of processed beef. In recent times, consumers have been growing increasingly concerned by the way in which agribusinesses are preparing their meat.
Fresh meat is best cooked immediately otherwise it will only last a few days before it will spoil, so many companies use different treatment methods in order to lengthen a product’s shelf life. In order to process meat, a common additive is added to act as a preservative and to also prevent any discolouration. Research has, however, given cause for concern as a high consumption of processed meats has been linked to dying at a younger age.
Cargill produce finely textured beef which are pieces of beef and trimmings which have been processed using a method which exposes the meat to citric acid in order to kill off any dangerous contaminants. The company have been performing this preservation technique since 1993, but there is currently no labelling on their ground beef products to inform the consumer that they contain this processed beef.
A rival company of Cargill’s, South-Dakota Beef products Inc, were forced to close 3 plants in early 2012 after sales dropped when their ‘lean finely textured beef’ was referred to as pink slime. This company uses ammonium hydroxide to preserve their textured beef whereas Cargill uses citric acid. Sales of Cargill’s finely textured beef sales also fell by 80% but the company is gradually recovering as they want to restore consumers’ confidence in their products.
In the light of consumers concerns, 3000 consumers were interviewed throughout the last 18 months to establish their views on how finely textured beef is produced. This has resulted in companies now agreeing that they should have more transparency over what is within their products. Cargill is now willing to start placing relevant labels on their ground beef products to show whether or not they contain their controversial finely textured beef to coincide with consumers’ wishes.
Any meat that has currently been genetically modified in any way is not obligated to disclose the information as federal regulator guidelines state that the finished product is still 100% meat, however, special meat labelling is now being considered.
John Keating, president of Cargill beef stated, "We’ve listened to the public, as well as our customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labelling Finely Textured Beef".