I see the effect in Harper’s eyes , my three-year old son, when I tell him ‘No’, and when my daughter, Kelsey, comes home from grade school after having a disagreement with one of her friends. Words can bring our self-esteem so low that we start to believe what we are hearing. We call it bullying and schools are addressing it nation-wide as communities see the devastating effects that words can have. Lies and taunts spread like wildfire. Today, with the birth of social media sites, the effects can be mind boggling; devastating to children and adults on a personal level but also to companies and those who depend on them economically.
Eldon Roth, President and CEO of Beef Products Inc., along with family, friends, and employees, suppliers of products and services and members of their communities have discovered what 2 words can do. Who would have thought that 2 words could bring down a stellar, well regarded and established company in less than 3 weeks?! A company that was only months earlier lauded for producing an affordable , 100% beef, lean, safe product called Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB). ‘Pink Slime’, a term that was shamelessly and irresponsibly proliferated by ABC News was given to LFTB, along with pictures that the American Meat Institute (one of many) will 100% argue is not LFTB. Without those 2 words and misinformed reporting, thousands of people would not be unemployed right now and the consumer would not be facing escalating beef prices.
There have been many examples of mass hysteria caused by inaccurate information. One that I am sure many can recall is the Swine Flu, which caused devastating effects to the pork industry and thousands of pigs were euthanized needlessly before the name was eventually (but never entirely) changed to H1N1. Now, two natural occurring proteins in meat, transglutaminase and beef fibrin, used in many food products have now been coined ‘Meat Glue’ by the same reporter who made the term ‘Pink Slime’ a household name. The American Meat Institute reacted much quicker to this as they saw the debilitating effect that a catch phrase can have on their industry and the consumer.
Consumers want transparency, which most industries embrace, but are you honestly going to read the report that accompanies your box of cereal? Will consumers know what some of those 12 letter words mean or just be intimidated by them? ‘News’ stations that base their success on ratings are not the key to education. If these news stations wanted to save lives regarding food safety, they should be taking the time to educate the general public on the proper way to use a meat thermometer or how to handle raw chicken properly. And where do you draw the line? LFTB is beef! Historically, LFTB was not labeled because it seems silly to label a package of ground beef,” Beef, beef.” But if the consumer wants it labeled, I understand that BPI is all for it!
As a degreed biologist, employed in food science, I am appalled that as a nation we allow words to take such a hold so as to disconnect us from the truth and to allow sensationalism to outweigh scientific fact and common sense. As an individual, it breaks my heart to see injustice in any arena. The truth may not be as sensational, but it is what should govern our thinking. We try to teach our kids honesty at home. We need to start setting an example for our children and follow this as adults. We need to hold reporters and stations who are claiming to report ‘news’ to do just that.
While we rush from work to soccer practice, grabbing dinner on the fly, we are too busy to investigate everything we are consuming. We would like to believe we could watch the news and that it would give us the answers we seek; but unfortunately that is NOT the case. There are two sides to every story, and anyone that has more than one child should know that.
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.