LFTB Investigation: Branstad & King Call for Congressional Hearing

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The fight over BPI's "lean, finely textured beef" could be heading all the way to Capital Hill.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Congressman Steve King both want to investigate what they're calling the "smear" campaign that caused BPI to halt production at three of its four plants.

Congressman King says he wants to get two things out of a possible investigation.

First, prove that LFTB is safe and healthy, and second: find out who's really been pushing against the product, and what their motives are.

"We have just begun to fight, we have just begun to fight," said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad Monday.

Governor Branstad and Congressman Steve King are calling for a congressional investigation into what say was a misinformation campaign.

The media storm over LFTB, questions on its safety, and the push to get it out of the school lunch program.

"Tell our superintendent don't be bullied by this smear campaign," said Branstad. "Don't let this misinformation persuade you to do the wrong thing and hurt the future generation in this country."

The goals behind the investigation: prove once and for all LFTB's safety and find out who has been behind the push against it, but an investigation isn't the only thing in LFTBb's future.

According to "Meating Place," a meat industry trade publication (www.meatingplace.com), the USDA has ruled to allow voluntary labeling of LFTB by the companies that use the product in ground beef production.

BPI says that isn't all bad, in fact, it might help get customers back.

In a statement released Monday, BPI said, "We feel this development will allow more customers to provide options to consumers and pave the way for BPI's lean beef to reestablish its place in the market."

But there are some who want to take that labeling one step further.

Maine Representative Chellie Pingree has introduced the "Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef" Act, or the REAL beef act.

If passed, it would require any beef containing LFTB to be labeled.

She says it's all part of a consumer demand to find out where food comes from.

"I think it's good for questions to be brought up by consumers about what's in their food and what their kids are eating, and I don't think anybody should be afraid of labeling their product, or say where it comes from or the processes that are being used," said Pingree.

But labeled or not, supporters hope that LFTB is under investigation soon.

In a statement released Monday, Christie Vilsack, who's running for Iowa's newly formed 4th district, said, "We must continue to educate the public about the safety of these products and ensure that decisions are made based on facts, not distortions."

At his town hall meeting in Sioux City Monday Congressman Steve King says he's calling on the House of Representative's Agriculture Committee to move on a hearing as soon as possible.

"We've seen now the regional support and it is significant," said King. "Now that kind of support needs to echo across the country while we still have momentum and that's the question and I want to keep driving that momentum."

When could we see an investigation happen?

Steve King's hoping it will happen sometime in April. He says the issue here is the timing.

He wants it happen as soon as possible while there's still a lot of public interest around BPI and lean, finely textured beef.

If you'd like to check out the story "Meating Place" has on the USDA's decision for voluntary beef labeling, visit this web site: http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=31955&pf=true


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