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Grocery Store To Offer Ground Beef Choice

March 29, 2012, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Grocery Store To Offer Ground Beef Choice

Hy-Vee had joined a list of stores and restaurants that said they would no longer use the product after consumer outrage over the additive that's been referred to as "pink slime."

But days later, Hy-Vee reversed its decision and now says it will offer consumers a choice in the matter, with labels that tell them what's in the beef.

Shoppers Eldon and Pauline Nelson are concerned about what's in their hamburger after hearing the term, "pink slime." 

"I have read a lot about it in the paper and heard it on the news. I have a lot of respect for people who work in the butcher department here and if they say it's good meat and the process has been used for 40 years, that's okay with me," Nelson said.

When Hy-Vee pulled the product containing lean finely textured beef, it was in response to consumer complaints and concerns.

"So when we hear an outcry saying we don't want this used in our food supply, whether it's based in fact or not, we're going to react to it," Bob Trader of Hy-Vee said.

But that action also got a response from customers like Allison Jahraus who plans to continue to buy the ground beef with the additive. 

"I actually grew up in Sioux City so I am going to support  BPI as much as I can and I know quite a few people that are affected by this. Yep, I will pick the same stuff," Jahraus said.

So Hy-Vee says it will come up with labels to let customers know which hamburger has the ammonia-treated beef and which doesn't.

"You have to balance the economics of family that needs an affordable product; the desire for people to have as natural a product as possible that doesn't have any chemicals at all in the process and the supply and demand," Trader said.

The ground beef without the ammonia-treated product in it runs about 10-12 cents more a pound.  But if the demand for it goes up, you can be sure the price will too. 

Nelson: If there's a choice, I would probably buy it without.
Angela Kennecke: Even if it cost a little more?
Nelson: Oh, if it's going to cost more, I'd probably go back to this.

But not everyone minds paying more for a product that doesn't contain the controversial additive.

"I would say I'd buy the more expensive one just because it's less preservatives that's harmful for my kids.  I would say the more expensive one, if it's available," customer Mandy Baier said.

Trader says according to some estimates, if you take all the finely textured ground beef out of the system, it’s equivalent to removing a million head of cattle and that will cause prices to rise.

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