Vilsack and Branstad weigh in on lean, finely textured beef - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Vilsack and Branstad weigh in on lean, finely textured beef

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad weigh in on lean, finely textured beef Wednesday.

 "The product is safe. There's no question about it. We've said that continually and we'll continue to say it," Vilsack said during a press conference addressing the negative publicity around the meat that critics have dubbed as "pink slime".

Branstad criticized the national media for their coverage on the meat that has been used for the past 30 years.

"I believe the national media have permeated this discussion with a poisonous tone that is detrimental to our beef industry that will hurt jobs and hurt the cattle producers in the state of Iowa," Branstad said. "During a time when we're all working hard as a nation to create new jobs... watching these facilities shut down is even harder to take since we knew the concern over the safety of this product is simply unfounded."

"I can guarantee that if we felt this was unsafe, we wouldn't allow it to be marketed," Vilsack said.

Branstad and Vilsack said they encourage schools to use the meat because it is historically less expensive and leaner than the alternative.

Vilsack says that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has heard of many concerns from school districts in the United States about lean, finely textured beef and so the districts will have a choice in using the beef filler.

 "We're not in the business of mandating. We are in the business of providing choice, but we hope that as this choice is being made that its based on facts. That the product is safe, that this product contains less fat and has historically been less expensive."

Branstad says he encourages people to use this product.

"For 30 years, BPI has been using lean finely textured beef to lower the fat content in ground beef. We have a goal to be the healthiest state in the nation. We want people to use leaner beef," Branstad said.

This is just the beginning of the political push.

Thursday Governor Branstad will join governors and lieutenant governors from at least three other states in touring the only operating BPI plant in Sioux City.

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