EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story included a link to the ABC News report detailing what "pink slime" is. Due to a defamation lawsuit and settlement, that report has been removed. However, this is a New York Times report on the slime and the lawsuit for more context.
WALKER, Mich. (WZZM) - Another grocery chain is announcing its ground beef will soon be free of the meat filler known as "pink slime."
In an e-mail to WZZM 13, Meijer representatives say their ground beef will no longer contain lean, "Finely Textured Lean Beef" (FTLB) by next month. ABC News recently reported that pink slime is in the ground beef at 70% of supermarkets in the U.S. It can make up to 25% of each hamburger patty.
According to the ABC News report, "pink slime" is made up of low-grade trimmings that come from parts of the cow that were once used in dog food and cooking oil. The company that manufactures FTLB, Beef Products Inc., simmers the trimmings in low heat, separates fat and tissue by spinning it at high speed, sprays it with an ammonia compound to kill germs, then freezes it. The United States Department of Agriculture says the finished product is safe to eat.
A former Beef Products employee told ABC News the product is not as nutritious as ground beef because the protein comes from connective tissue, not meat from muscle. Because the USDA considers FTLB to be safe for consumption, it does not have to be listed as an ingredient in ground beef.
Earlier this month, WZZM 13 On Your Side contacted three West Michigan-based retailers to find out if their ground beef contains FTLB. A spokesman for Meijer told us "the fresh ground beef Meijer grinds and sells at our stores does not contain it."
But this week, Meijer Public Relations director, Frank J. Guglielmi e-mailed WZZM 13 a clarification:
"Meijer sells 12 different varieties of fresh ground beef, one (of the 12 varieties) had the potential to contain the LFTB (we have five different suppliers who provide us with the pre-ground beef that we use when we grind this one variety of fresh product in our store.) Two of those five suppliers occasionally use LFTB...but USDA does not require them to list it as an ingredient. We have told them we will no longer accept their product unless they certify it is LFTB free. So, by the beginning of April, we will be 100% free of any product that could contain LFTB."
A Spartan Stores spokeswoman sent us the following statement:
"Spartan Stores suppliers have verified that they do not use this process. None of this product referred to by the media as "Pink Slime" are on any Spartan Stores-supplied products."
We also contacted Gordon Food Service. No one from that company has returned our messages.