Tyson Is Among Meat Companies Exploring Ground-Beef Labeling

Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) said it’s among companies exploring the possibility of labeling ground meat that contains lean, finely textured beef, a product also known as “pink slime.”

The company submitted a labeling request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson, said today in an e-mail. The company, the largest U.S. meat processor, doesn’t make the beef product, and instead buys it from external suppliers, he said.

Beef Products Inc. treats trimmings with ammonia hydroxide to kill pathogens and make the meat product. The company suspended operations at three plants last month, because of consumer concerns about the product, which the USDA has repeatedly called safe. Several fast-food restaurant chains, including McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), have stopped using the product.

“The number of customers requesting non-LFTB product increased substantially following the media’s inaccurate portrayal of LFTB, but we have recently seen an increased interest in purchasing ground beef containing LFTB as customers and consumers gain access to more accurate information,” Mickelson said.

“Several companies have chosen to voluntarily pursue a new claim on their product labels that will allow them to clarify the use of” the meat product, Dirk Fillpot, a USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The “USDA has received this type of application for the first time through the normal label approval process and the department has determined that such requests will be approved.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Shruti Singh in Chicago at ssingh28@bloomberg.net; Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net

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