from the squash-the-beef dept.
Beef Products Inc. (BPI), the South Dakota-based meat processing company at the center of 2012’s “pink slime” controversy, just won a long-sought semantic victory. For years, the company has argued that its signature product is safe, wholesome, and not unlike everyday burger meat. Now, BPI has enlisted a powerful ally in its effort to recoup its image and reclassify its product: the federal government.
After a months-long evaluation, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) determined in December that BPI’s signature product—the offering famously called “pink slime” in an ABC News exposé that got the network in a lot of trouble—can be labeled “ground beef.” Legally speaking, it’s now no different from ordinary hamburger, and could even be sold directly to the public.
A public-relations firm backed by meat producers has unleashed a savage marketing campaign that claims plant-based meat alternatives are unhealthy, "ultra-processed imitations" similar to dog food.
The campaign rolled out in recent weeks from the industry-funded firm Center for Consumer Freedom, according to The New York Times. So far, it has included full-page ads and opinion pieces in mainstream newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. All the marketing material raises health concerns about trendy meat alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger.
One ad posed the question "What's hiding in your plant-based meat?" Another directed readers to take the quiz "Veggie Burger or Dog Food?"
In an op-ed, the managing director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, Will Coggin, labeled meat alternatives as "ultra-processed" foods and noted that a recent study led by the researchers at the National Institutes of Health linked ultra-processed foods to weight gain.
The negative marketing campaign comes amid soaring popularity of meat alternatives, which threaten to slice into the meat market's sales and profits. In recent months, big players in the meat industry had tried a different—some might say hypocritical—tactic to compete with the new comers—that is, they released their own lines of meat alternatives. Now, the industry wants consumers to think such alternatives are unhealthy.
Previously: U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat"
Regulation Coming to Lab-Grown Meat
FDA Approves Impossible Burger "Heme" Ingredient; Still Wants to Regulate "Cultured Meat"
Missouri Regulates Use of the Word "Meat" by Food Producers
Following IPO of Beyond Meat, Tyson Foods Plans Launch of its Own Meatless Products
Mississippi Bans Calling Plant and Cultured-Meat Patties 'Burgers'
Related: Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021
FDA May Force Rebranding of Soy, Almond, et al. "Milks"
Meatless "Beyond Burgers" Come to Fast Food Restaurants
Beef Trimmings Dubbed 'Pink SLIME' Can Now be Labelled 'Ground Beef'
No Need to Cut Down Red and Processed Meat, Study Says