PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway and Supervalu, the fifth and sixth largest food retailers in the U.S., respectively, have each issued separate statements announcing plans to discontinue the use of lean finely textured beef filler in all ground beef products sold at their stores.
“Effective today [March 21], Supervalu has made the decision to no longer purchase fresh ground beef containing finely textured beef for any of our traditional retail stores,” read an e-mail announcement sent to the press by Supervalu National Media Manager Mike Siemienas. “These stores include Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy. We are currently working with our suppliers to implement this change.”
The statement went on to note that while there are no food safety concerns associated with lean finely textured beef, growing consumer concern over the ingredient had led to their decision.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Gerald Zirnstein, a former scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and vocal critic of the ingredient, described the filler as “pink slime” and said that it is used in up to 70% of ground beef sold in U.S. supermarkets. Although the ingredient is made with beef trimmings and is considered safe for consumption by the USDA, the pejorative term has helped intensify consumer criticism and media coverage in the weeks since.
“Safeway is committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products,” the company said in a statement. “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 will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef.”