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'Pink slime': Kroger joins others in dropping beef product

March 22, 2012|By Michael Muskal

Kroger Co., the nation’s largest supermarket retailer, on Thursday joined the growing list of companies that have dropped the beef product widely referred to as pink slime from their fresh meat cases.

Both Kroger and the Stop & Shop chain said they would no longer sell fresh meat containing the product, known by the industry as lean finely textured beef. On Wednesday, supermarket chains Safeway, Supervalu and Food Lion said they would stop selling fresh meat containing the product because of widespread consumer concerns in the wake of media reports. Kroger operates the Ralphs and Food 4 Less chains in Southern California.

“Kroger listens to our customers carefully to provide the high quality products they want at the great prices they deserve,” the company said in a statement.

“Our customers have expressed their concerns that the use of lean finely textured beef — while fully approved by the USDA for safety and quality — is something they do not want in their ground beef. We highly value customer feedback, and the recent flood of news stories has diminished their confidence in the product. As a result, Kroger will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef,” it said.

Kroger runs 2,435 supermarkets in 31 states, operating under names including Kroger, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, and Smith's.

Stop & Shop runs about 400 stores mainly in the Northeast.

Federal regulators, supermarkets and the meat industry have all insisted that the beef product is safe, but the recent spate of negative publicity has made it a hard sell. The product is made from less-costly scraps of meat treated with a microbe killer, usually ammonia-based.

The ammonia product is not required to be listed on the food label. Critics argue against the ammonia.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week that it would give school districts information on suppliers of pink slime so that they can decide whether to use the product.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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