Beef filler controversy could cost consumers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Beef filler controversy could cost consumers

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Misconceptions about the product on national news and social media sites could impact your pocketbook. The fallout over "pink slime" could mean you'll pay more at the meat counter.

Beef Products Inc., the maker of "lean, finely textured beef" suspended operations at all, but one plant where the beef ingredient is made. It's already impacted more than 200 jobs in Waterloo. Officials with the company say the recent misconceptions have cost the company business.

It was a social media frenzy that caused grocery store chains and fast food restaurants to stop using the stuff some people call "pink slime," but the loss of the product will probably result in greater demand for higher-grade beef and that could drive prices up.

"At the store, we'll just have to wait and see. I guess depending on demand. It's all about supply and demand," said Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council Nancy Degner.

At B & R Quality Meats in Waterloo, they don't use this filler or "pink slime" in any of their products, but those who buy meat might see an impact without this product being made.

Mark Ratkovich started B & R Quality Meats in 1980. They sell their meat products mainly to wholesalers, but they do have a small shop in Waterloo. Ratkovich agrees higher beef prices could be on the horizon.

"It's definitely going to affect the pricing because of the overall yield in the carcass of the beef that comes off the floor is going to be less so that's going to not only impact ground beef prices, but it will also drive up every cut of beef there is, your steaks, your roasts, everything," said Ratkovich.

Ratkovich also says the prices could rise as much as $0.10 to $0.50 per pound depending on the cut.

"We get 8 to 10 pounds off a beef animal and that 8 to 10 pounds is blended in with what we call traditional ground beef so what you will have, and remember I said it is 100 percent beef, you will just have fewer pounds of lean beef on the market and if consumers don't want to buy beef and ground beef less supply usually indicates an increase in price," said Degner.

Federal regulators say the product, which has been used for years, meets all food safety standards. There's no indication anyone's ever gotten sick from it, but critics call it an unappetizing example of industrialized food production.

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