BPI eliminating Iowa jobs effective May 25 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

BPI eliminating Iowa jobs effective May 25


The controversy over Lean Finely Textured Beef, known by critics as "Pink Slime," will permanently close a Waterloo facility. 

Beef Products, Inc. had temporarily suspended operations at three of its plants, including one in Waterloo, after public controversy about LFTB. The closure of three of the company's four plants will eliminate 650 jobs, including 200 in Waterloo.

BPI began notifying employees of the closure on Monday. The plants will close permanently on May 25.

A full statement from company spokesman Rich Jochum follows: 

"Last month, Beef Products Inc. made the difficult business decision to suspend operations at our three plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo, Iowa while we attempted to rebuild markets following the unfounded and misguided attacks on our Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. At the time, we made the decision to continue paying full salaries to the more than 650 employees at those locations. We are making significant progress in setting the record straight and are encouraged by recent market research which shows that consumers are very interested in consuming high quality, safe lean ground beef - which is exactly what we have done for the last thirty years. We will continue communicating the benefits of BPI's lean beef, but that process is much more difficult than the campaign to spread misinformation that brought us to this point. While we had hoped to be able to resume operation at those plants, that is not going to be possible in the immediate future and the temporary suspension of operations will in fact result in the elimination of those jobs effective May 25, 2012.

"During this same period, we have continued to operate our South Sioux City, Nebraska facility at reduced capacity. We intend to continue operations at this location and expand production here as the market activity allows. In the interim, we continue to stand by our lean beef as 100% wholesome, safe and nutritious, and we will continue to defend Beef Products, Inc. against the mischaracterizations and irresponsible misrepresentations that led us to take these actions. I continue to encourage you to visit www.BeefIsBeef.com for the facts about Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings and for up-to-date news and information."

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has spoken out in favor of BPI and LFTB. After the announcement that BPI will close its Iowa plant, the governor released this statement:

"This is a sad day for the state of Iowa. The fact that a false, misleading smear campaign can destroy a company's reputation overnight should disturb us all. My office will never stop fighting for every single job in this state, and I continue to hope that as consumers learn about this safe, healthy and lean product, they will understand what a great product lean, finely textured beef truly is.

"Unfortunately, we have learned that what a ruinous smear campaign accomplishes overnight can take years to correct. I want those workers who now face the daunting task of finding a new job to know that my administration will always fight for them. Today they go home to their families and will soon be without a job, all because some media on the coasts decided to unfairly and viciously smear the product they so proudly produced.

"Our thoughts and hearts go out to the people at BPI, Inc. We continue to stand with you, and will always do so proudly."

Senator Chuck Grassley released this statement:

"It's a real shame that a smear campaign of misinformation that neither accurately describes lean finely textured beef, nor is fair to the hard-working people who make it, is costing a lot of people their jobs today.  BPI worked very hard to save these jobs, but there just wasn't enough time to educate the public about the company's process that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and used in hundreds of other foods, besides beef, that's been consumed safely for more than 20 years." 

 Representative Bruce Braley released this statement:

My heart goes out to the workers in Waterloo and elsewhere who learned they lost their jobs today. It's a shame that the facts have been lost in the furor over lean, finely textured beef and it's frustrating that the controversy has resulted in significant job losses in Waterloo.

It's important that the public knows the truth about this product.  That's why we're going to keep working to do everything possible to get the truth out there.  In the meantime, we're going to do everything we can to help the workers affected by this closure stay on their feet."

Along with the shuttering of BPI's Waterloo plant, facilities in Amarillo, Texas and Garden City, Kansas will close permanently.  The company says its plant in South Sioux City, Nebraska will remain open and could expand if market activity improves. 



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