I generally like and am informed by The Salt, a blog on food topics by NPR. But April Fulton’s something-or-other on pink slime is a piece of ill-expressed junk.
It starts with the headline, which she may not have been responsible for: A Meat Mea Culpa: What Went Wrong With 'Pink Slime.' Except there is no mea culpa, which is Latin for “my fault.” BPI, the company most identified with the meat filler, didn’t even comment for the story that Fulton is writing about, never mind accept any fault. I believe the Latin phrase NPR wanted was “post mortem,” which describes the investigation that follows a death.
The story, by the meat processing trade publication MeatingPlace, identifies a series of mileposts on the filler’s downward slide that Fulton accepts, apparently without thought or filter.
One, for example, she calls “government dithering,” which is far from neutral description; it implies the government was wrong when it didn’t address the tsunami that built until 10 days in. That’s what MeatingPlace thinks, and so does NPR, apparently.
Additionally, the whole idea presumes there was a correct time for USDA to comment, which is 20-100 hindsight. The social-media wave was extraordinary, and how does one have a standard playbook against that? Much earlier, the industry would no doubt have faulted the government for giving prominence and legitimacy to the fringe.
Fulton also presents, without filter, MeatingPlace’s assertion that “consumers think the meat companies are hiding something." Think? This is the essence of hiding: Not only does the meat industry zealously bar any filming of its process, its lobbyists are pushing “ag-gag” laws across the country that would criminalize such filming. The only reason consumers think that meat processors are hiding something is that they are hiding something!
Fulton finishes this cow pie with three paragraphs of prime eqivocation:
Rational people can argue over whether we should be raising and processing livestock in a way that makes them more susceptible to pathogens like E. coli and requires the use of agents like ammonia to kill those bugs. But the fact is, we are, and we do.
We can also debate whether LFTB should have been labeled from the start, or whether it should be now.
So if a little more sunshine comes of this pink slime thing, that can't be bad.
Please raise your hand if you think the lesson that meat processors will take from this incident is that they have to become more transparent. I don't think they'll consider it as anything more than a image they have to dress up better. That's the opposite of transparency.