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Video: Governors fight back over ‘pink slime’

  1. Closed captioning of: Governors fight back over ‘pink slime’

    >> so much. there is a new wrinkle in the growing controversy over a common ground beef filler dubbed pink slime. we are now seeing how this stuff is made. but would it ease consumer concerns about its safety? nbc's john yang is at a beef processing plant in south sioux city , nebraska. john, good morning to you.

    >> good morning, hoda. this is one of the plants where they make this product. about 600,000 pounds of it on an average day. it's been around since the 1990s , but only recently has it become controversial. an example of the power of social media . the beef industry calls it lean finely textured beef. critics call it pink slime. it's become a punch line for tv talk show hosts.

    >> have you heard the story about the pink slime in your meat?

    >> i'm finely textured.

    >> you're a jerk and a liar.

    >> reporter: governors in beef-producing states aren't laughing.

    >> this is a safe and reliable product, and this company mass gone out of its way to protect the safety of the consumer.

    >> let's call this product what it is. and let let pink slime become a term of the past.

    >> reporter: they're fighting back. showing news cameras how the product is made from what's left over after butchering roasts and steaks. it treated with citric acid or common ammonia solution to kill bacteria. for nearly two decades it's been in ground beef with little notice. about 850 million pounds a year. then on network tv , celebrity chef jamie oliver launched a crusade.

    >> that's been processed, we're going to give it to you.

    >> reporter: earlier this month a blogger started a petition drive to get it out of school lunches.

    >> people are very upset that this is in 70% of our ground beef , up to 15%, and it's not labeled.

    >> reporter: the public outcry was heard. now schools can choose not to serve beef with the product and big grocery chains, including krieger, safeway and food lion have stopped selling it. as a result, three processing plants in texas, kansas and iowa have stopped work, idling more than 650 employees. defenders say the product is 100% meat and actually makes ground beef leaner, because the fat's been removed. food experts say it's posed no health threat.

    >> americans have probably been eating it for a long time. it appears to be safe.

    >> reporter: here in the heart of beef country, diners have no plans to give it up.

    >> i prefer to have this meat versus the regular meat with the fat in it.

    >> reporter: at mcdonald's and other fast food restaurants stopped serving this product earlier this year, even before the latest petition arise, and the beef industry says if consumers continue to reject this product, it could make beef supplies tight, and that

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