KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Citing the impact of the recent “pink slime” consumer controversy, ground beef processor AFA Foods here has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a report by Reuters.
AFA is a major supplier, producing more than 500 million pounds of ground beef annually. Documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., indicate the company is seeking a sale of some or all of its assets.
During the second week of March, former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist Gerald Zirnstein told ABC News that 70% of ground beef sold at supermarkets contained “pink slime,” a term that he had coined for lean finely textured beef while working at USDA. The safety of the ingredient was never called into question, but links and conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites helped build consumer outrage, and most major supermarket chains quickly distanced themselves from the controversy.
In related news, Beef Products Inc., another major supplier of the ingredient, shuttered three facilities in Iowa, Kansas and Texas last week. Citing customer feedback from customers who wished “to support companies that provide thousands of jobs in our Midwest trade area,” Hy-Vee became one of the few major chains to reverse its earlier decision to discontinue all ground beef products containing the ingredient.
“Both products [LFTB-free beef and beef made with LFTB] will be identified so customers can determine for themselves which type of ground beef they want to buy,” the company announced in a statement last Wednesday. “This transition is underway and will be implemented in our retail stores as quickly as possible. We thank our customers for sharing their views on this issue, and encourage them to continue telling us what we can do to improve their shopping experience at Hy-Vee.”