Raley's, Safeway stop selling 'pink slime' beef products

dvsmith@sacbee.comMarch 23, 2012 

Customer concerns over "pink slime," the ground beef additive with the unfortunate nickname, have led Safeway and West Sacramento-based Raley's Fine Foods to stop selling products containing the filler.

The supermarket chains join a growing list of grocers nationwide, including Kroger Co. and Supervalu Inc., which owns the Albertsons and Lucky grocery chains, that have yanked the products.

The filler is known in the beef industry as "lean, finely textured beef," or LFTB.

Safeway on Wednesday said it will stop selling fresh or frozen ground beef with the filler.

Raley's officials released a statement that said it doesn't use the filler in its fresh ground beef products or in its "Black Angus" frozen beef patties. Raley's said it does sell other frozen beef patties with the additive, but will stop.

"We have made a decision going forward to no longer purchase frozen hamburger patties containing 'LFTB,' " Raley's officials said in a statement. "We made this decision based on customer desire to buy ground beef without LFTB."

Federal regulators say LFTB – made from fatty trimmings from other beef cuts that are heated to remove fat and then treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill E. coli and other bacteria – is a safe additive.

But consumers and critics say the beef filler could be unsafe and have marshaled opposition to pink slime through online petitions and social media. As the campaigns have grown, grocers have been responding.

Costco and Whole Foods said they have never sold products containing the filler. Wal-Mart and Sam's Club said they will begin selling meat that does not have the filler, but did not say they would stop selling meat that does.

Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets continues to stock ground beef products with and without the additive, spokeswoman Alicia Blackwell said. But Blackwell said Save Mart's vendors do not use ammoniated gas in their processes.

"If we didn't feel that a product was safe, we wouldn't serve it," she said. "We will do what is best for our consumers."

The grocer, with 17 stores in the Sacramento area, has fielded questions from customers about the filler, Rockwell said. Its website, www.savemart.com, has information about lean, finely textured beef on its "Consumer Alerts" page, including its selection of ground beef products without the additive.

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