There have been a lot of ‘lessons’ learned from the Pink Slime debacle. Unfortunately, those who fell for the ‘pink slime’ hype have left this smear campaign none the wiser. Beef Products, Inc., along with the entire meat industry, however, are now keenly aware of the power of social media. They are dedicating endless resources to studying this case and how to avoid similar smear campaigns in the future.
As a consumer I have modified my thinking and behavior after seeing BPI’s Boneless Lean Beef Product (LFTB)) drug through the mud. Here are some lessons I learned:
1. The media can put a spin on anything. I watched the entire 45 min. press conference in which the governors and ABC ‘s, Jim Avila, the journalist who played a large part in spreading misinformation, toured one of BPI’s state of the art processing plants. As I watched, I thought ‘Oh, this is good- this should squash any misconceptions on the process.’ Then, out of the blue, Jim Avilla accused Nancy Donley founder of STOP a major consumer advocacy group focused on food safety, whose son died from E.coli O157:H7 poisoning, of accepting bribes from BPI. I was absolutely shocked that ABC had the audacity and bad taste to air this confrontation. Adding to my surprise, ABC showed Avila attempting to speak to Regina Roth (BPI Co Founder) and Nancy Donley AFTER the press conference, AFTER he had time to ask ridiculous questions and AFTER months of inaccurate and debilitating commentary. The footage seemed to want to show BPI avoiding him, when in fact BPI had just opened their doors to their processing facility, assembled numerous food safety experts, and took time to answer any and all questions posed.
2. Misinformation and lies can be much more powerful than the truth. I suppose this is something that I knew based on history, but still amazes me. How pictures that are not LFTB are STILL being portrayed as such and those individuals and organizations aren’t called out and held accountable drives me crazy. Experts can talk until they are blue in the face, but the media knows how to touch people’s inner fears and they aren’t scared to use any tactics to do just that. As Lindsey Kovarna touched on in her blog ‘Craziest Comments in the “Pink Slime” Controversy’, it amazes me the individuals who know nothing about Food Science or BPI coming out of the wood work and making additional outrageous comments. Who has the time or the need to comment on something that they know nothing about? Let’s leave the communication to the experts and focus on facts; I personally don’t have time or the patience for lies.
3. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a bully and should not be confused with your local humane society. The HSUS believes all people should be vegetarians, and are attacking local farmers in an attempt to make processes more difficult and therefore raise meat prices. The majority of farmers have refined processes in place that are good for the animals. At first I thought the HSUS would be a proponent of LFTB as it utilizes technology to obtain lean beef that is difficult to capture utilizing knives. LFTB means more meat obtained per cow, so it just makes sense. What about sustainability and feeding our growing population? We now need to raise another million and ½ head of cattle a year to make up for the disappearance of LFTB! Nope, the HSUS will do whatever it takes to raise prices and get all meat off the market….. whatever the cost.
4. I will not sign any petition unless I am familiar with all the FACTS. The LFTB smear campaign was blown to significant proportions when a mommy blogger sent off a petition to stop “Pink Slime’ in school lunches. Who wants their kids eating something called” pink slime”? Not me! But I have the facts and know that LFTB is NOT “pink slime”!! I am positive this wouldn’t have received the same amount of signatures had its real name, LFTB, been used in the petition.
A couple weeks ago I got a petition ‘Sign here so Domino’s will stop animal cruelty’. Normally I would have been appalled and signed the petition. Instead, I requested that I no longer receive petitions such as this that perpetuate lies. This is yet another HSUS attack in which they have been attacking the use of gestation crates. The HSUS states that animals shouldn’t be confined in tight crates and this equates to animal cruelty. Sounds like we should be outraged.….. Until you talk to the farmer who states that these are used to separate animals so they don’t stampede each other and eat each other’s young. Maybe we should consult with the farmers who have been doing this for generations and who will tell you animals are not in these crates all the time, but during birthing when the aforementioned situations arise. Again, HSUS attempting to make life more difficult on agriculture no matter what negative effect it may have on animals- as long as it meets their overall goal. Organizations and individuals will say anything to get a person’s attention and signature, including outright lies.
The overall lesson is obviously ‘Don’t believe everything you hear… or read.’ Or as Thomas Kida appropriately titled his book concerning the 6 basic mistakes we make in thinking – ‘Don’t Believe Everything you Think’.
I’m a mother of two and a wife with a degree in biology. I’m employed in food science and quality control. I love reading, grilling out with friends, and playing with my children.