Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 18, 2014

Iowa’s Beef With Pink Slime Paranoia

National media has been having a field day with what they’ve dubbed “pink slime,” the mechanically separated and chemically treated trimmings folded back into commercial ground beef.

But fed-up Iowa lawmakers are championing the food filler approved by the Agriculture Department.

Democrats are now in the thick of the meal preparation melee, with Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Rush Holt (N.J.), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Adam Schiff (Calif.), John Lewis (Ga.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) rallying behind the Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef Act authored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine).

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has issued statements and taken to Twitter to defend the “lean, finely textured beef” pumped out by Beef Products Inc., asserting that he — and all the rest of us — have unknowingly enjoyed the ubiquitous protein cast-offs for decades sans complaint.

“Without lean finely textured beef, as many as 1.5 million additional head of cattle could be needed to replace it in the meat supply, and the cost of ground beef for consumers would be higher,” Grassley charged in a pro-beef statement.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has taken the bull by the horns, lashing out at Pingree, elitist consumers and perceived slime-slamming activists who clearly “don’t like meat.”

He blasted Pingree for denigrating what he maintains is a “safe, lean product” that actively “helps reduce obesity.”

“This woman has put on her website a whole lot of inaccurate, false smear information. We need to expose this,” Branstad told Radio Iowa.

During that same interview, Branstad vowed to contact every state governor about the widespread assault on the school-lunch staple and floated the idea of asking Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) to spearhead a Congressional investigation into “who’s behind this smear campaign.”

Boswell and Lucas did not respond to emails regarding their interest in taking up the beef banner, and a King aide said her boss was too swamped with town hall meetings (23 of ‘em this week) to weigh in on the juicy controversy.

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