Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) Commissioner Gary W. Black today held a press conference to address public concern relating to one of the nation’s hot food safety topics, referred to as Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) in the food industry.
“As the official regulatory agency for the state, the Department wants Georgians to know that one of our utmost priorities is food safety,” Commissioner Black said. “Our great nation operates as a free market and it is our goal to educate Georgians so that they may make informed decisions about the foods they purchase for themselves and their families.”
Glen Echols, Director of the GDA Meat Inspection Section (GMIS), provided the overview. GMIS regulates ground beef production in all state-inspected establishments in Georgia, following federal guidelines.
“The production process used to produce LFTB was developed more than 30 years ago and the product is widely used in many major beef processing facilities in the U.S.,” Echols said, noting Georgia currently has no state-licensed establishments utilizing LFTB in production. “The mechanical process allows the recovery of more lean muscle tissue per carcass, resulting in higher yields of product; the end result is a leaner ground beef that costs less for consumers.”
Ammonium hydroxide, the additive used in LFTB processing, was approved in 1974 and is used today in a variety of food products, including baked goods and confectionaries. In ground beef production, the additive is used in gaseous form to increase pH levels and kill pathogens such as E. coli, which can cause food borne illnesses.
Echols noted that if the U.S. were to end this practice in ground beef production entirely, in addition to job losses, beef prices would likely increase due to decreased carcass yields during processing and less ground beef available to meet the current market demands. As the global population continues to rise, these are important facts to consider.
“The connotation of eating LFTB has left many consumers questioning the ground beef products they consume, but there are no human health hazards associated with it. The fact is, this process aids in keeping ground beef lower in fat and at lower risk for pathogens,” Commissioner Black said. “There are many options for consumers at the grocery store, including ground beef with and without LFTB. We’d like to help consumers understand the process and remind them this is a personal choice, not a food safety issue.”
Click here for the GMIS Fact Sheet about Lean Finely Textured Beef.
For a USDA fact sheet with more information, visit www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/76330 or visit www.fsis.usda.gov for more information on federal regulations and standards for ground beef processing.