Iowa plant among 3 closing after pink slime controversy

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Beef Products, Inc. blames the pink slime controversy for forcing the closure of its plants in Waterloo, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas and Amarillo, Texas.

About 650 people will lose jobs when the plants close May 25, 2012.  The Waterloo plant employs more than 200 Iowans.

The Beef Products, Inc., plant in Sioux City, Nebraska will remain open but will operate at a reduced capacity.

The closures follow a suspension of operations in March during public controversy over lean, finely-textured beef – dubbed “pink slime”.   Some retailers pulled products containing the filler from their shelves, and the USDA allowed school districts to choose to stop using it.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad called the controversy a “smear campaign” that unduly hurt Iowans.

“This is a sad day for the state of Iowa. The fact that a false, misleading smear campaign can destroy a company’s reputation overnight should disturb us all. My office will never stop fighting for every single job in this state, and I continue to hope that as consumers learn about this safe, healthy and lean food, they will understand what a great product lean, finely textured beef truly is,” Branstad said in a statement issued Monday, May 7.

“Unfortunately, we have learned that what a ruinous smear campaign accomplishes overnight can take years to correct. I want those workers who now face the daunting task of finding a new job to know that my administration will always fight for them. Today they go home to their families and will soon be without a job, all because some media on the coasts decided to unfairly and viciously smear the product they so proudly produced.

“Our thoughts and hearts go out to the people at BPI, Inc. We continue to stand with you, and will always do so proudly.”