CHICAGO -- Controversy over a segment of the "Oprah Winfrey Show" that cast doubt on the safety of American beef has been defused by the beef industry.
eef Association representative Gary Weber and vegetarian activist Howard Lyman appeared on the show, but NCBA claimed in a statement that 75% of Weber's comments were edited out after the initial taping.
NCBA President John Lacey condemned the show in a letter to Winfrey, saying that she had given "antimeat activists a platform for biased and unsubstantiated claims against beef.
"Your April 16 show is one more example of the irresponsible scare tactics with which much of American television has become identified," Lacey wrote.
"The show was one of beef-bashing, not a reasonable discussion of BSE and the safety of the American beef supply. You took a complex technical issue and turned it into an hour of unjustified scaremongering."
Winfrey invited Weber to reappear on an April 23 show, which NCBA agreed to only if the segment ran unedited and without an opposing viewpoint. Also appearing was Connie Greig, chairman of NCBA's Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, who attested to the industry's concern about food safety and consumer protection.
"It's the responsibility of cattlemen to produce a safe and wholesome product for consumers, and we work hard at that," she said.
In a follow-up letter to Winfrey, Lacey emphasized cattle producers' dedication and expressed his appreciation to Winfrey for the opportunity to "set the record straight."