Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Slime Job

As we have done from the start here at The Daily Felltoon, when a person or organization deserves credit for a job well done, we proudly give that credit, even when others may forget to. Likewise, we also feel we have a duty to call out hypocrisy and outright false information when we see it - which, sadly, is far more often than we'd like it to be.

Today, unfortunately, is a disgusting display of the latter. A slimy, pink, suck-up job by a media outlet with whom our staff members have all had a significant amount of interaction over the years.

In case you missed it, the editorial board of the Lincoln Journal-Star decided to run an opinion piece in their print and online editions this week praising  Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska, as well as Iowa and South Dakota for continuing to order ground beef containing "pink slime" - the more common name for the substance the beef industry calls "lean finely textured beef."

The editorial in the Journal-Star almost could have been a propaganda piece written by Beef Products Inc., the company that produces and sells "pink slime". The piece was practically a love letter to Heineman and BPI. Not surprisingly, the Journal-Star editorial board also left some important information out of their overly friendly endorsement.

For one thing, if Dave Heineman is to be considered an expert on food safety because he enjoys an occasional hamburger, then our editor's dog Shadow could also fall into the same category. While we don't always agree with the Governor, we highly doubt that his interest in keeping business flowing to BPI's factory in South Sioux City, Nebraska is directly connected to his taste buds.

As the Sioux City area overlaps the only three states in the country to still be purchasing or allowing this kind of meat product to be used in K-12 schools - Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota - we have a solid bet that political contributions also have something to do with these decisions.

In fact, with a quick click over to the non-partisan OpenSecrets.org, it's obvious that BPI and its related entities were top contributors to four members of Congress, two Republicans and two Democratic members, spread between Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

In its piece, the Journal-Star's opinion board also did more than its share of name calling and image smearing against those who are opposed to "pink slime", like celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Their opinion piece failed to mention that whatever one thinks of Mr. Oliver, that fact is that "pink slime" is not the top quality pile of meat product the Journal-Star attempts to describe.

It's also important to note that much of the rest of the Journal-Star often contains some high quality journalism, just as much of the beef industry produces other quality products. This piece came from the opinion section, however - and its quality was severely lacking.

From the New York Times to NPR, to a host of other mainstream media organizations, the truth about "lean finely textured beef" remains the same. It's a substance that is composed of trimmings, that previously wasn't even considered high-enough quality for dog food. Multiple tests, by the USDA and others, have confirmed "pink slime" is still significantly more susceptible to contamination, including dangerous forms of E. coli and salmonella.

It short, while it may receive a passing grade from the USDA, this meat product will never be at the head of its class of products - much like the item which spurred our well-thought rebuttal today.

Thankfully for us, well researched commentary remains the fact-based, steak-like product line of perspective media, which we produce daily with pride.

Some things are worth savoring.

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