Pleasanton’s Safeway Inc., the second-biggest grocery chain in the nation, said Tuesday it would stop selling ground beef containing “pink slime” in its stores.
After about a week of monitoring consumer concern about the ground beef filler ingredient dubbed “pink slime,” Safeway Inc. will no longer sell ground beef containing the filler, the Pleasanton company said Tuesday.
“We’ve been watching customer feedback over the last week or so through customer service centers, retail locations and social media,” said Brian Dowling, vice president of public affairs for the supermarket chain, the second largest in the country. Customer response to the announcement has been “very positive,” Dowling said.
The meat industry calls the filler “lean finely textured beef.” Consumers have dubbed it “pink slime.” The material is made of trimmings and leftover beef scraps that are heated to remove excess fat and then treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to ensure it is free of E. coli and other bacteria.
The filler is safe for consumption, the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture said, but consumers have become vocal about their concerns with the product.
“While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product,” Safeway said. “Safeway will no longer purchase fresh or frozen ground beef patties for our stores’ meat departments that contains lean finely textured beef.”
Safeway stores will not be pulling products that are already on their shelves or have already been purchased, Dowling said. Instead, starting today, the chain’s stores will no longer purchase ground beef products that contain the filler. Beef products with the filler were previously available at stores’ meat counters and on shelves of pre-packaged meat.
On Thursday, the USDA said that school districts that get food through the government’s school lunch program will be allowed to say no to ground beef that contains the filler.
Dowling said he thinks Safeway is the first grocery chain store to alter its product purchases since pink slime became a hot news topic last week.
The chain’s supermarkets include Safeway, Randall’s Food Markets, Simon David, Tom Thumb and Vons.