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Pink Slime: The Demise of Beef Products, Inc.

I encourage all food businesses to take a moment and give real thought to whether your business is susceptible, either directly or indirectly, to consequences similar to that which has befallen Beef Products, Inc.  BFI is the meat processor originally responsible for what is publicly known as Pink Slime.   Pink Slime was not responsible for any public health crisis – no one got sick and there was no threat of foodborne illness.  It was sold through familiar distribution channels – Kroger, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Taco Bell, huge school systems, etc., and each of us non-vegetarians have likely consumed it over the years. 

The product, which might be perceived as gross, caught the attention of some news media and popular bloggers and, ultimately, the American public.   People screamed "no one is serving something that looks like pink slime to my kids at school."   Despite being safe and a staple of the American diet for years (albeit, unknowingly perhaps), the public was fed up.  Now, a successful American company, which had employed 1,500 prior to this situation, faces failure.  Could a blogger tag your product with an unsavory name and put you out of business?  Or one of your key suppliers?  Are you prepared for that and in a position to defend against it? 

© 2020 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 123


About this Author

Varnum's Food Law practice includes more than a dozen attorneys experienced in the sophisticated areas of law that apply to food regulation. We help regulated businesses bring their products to market. In particular, we counsel USDA- and FDA-regulated businesses in the following areas:

  • Product labeling, advertising and other promotional materials.

  • The regulatory scheme affecting or governing such products, including mandatory and voluntary submissions (FDA-required petitions and notifications) and...