Safeway and Albertsons to stop selling meat with "pink slime"

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PHOENIX --Two grocery chains that serve Arizona said Wednesday that they'll stop selling ground beef that contains a filler known as "pink slime."

Safeway and Albertsons said that while U.S. Department of Agriculture deems the filler safe, they are reacting to consumer concern.

On Thursday,Kroger, which owns Fry's Food Stores, said they would follow suit.

The low-cost filler is formally called lean finely textured beef but has become known as "pink slime" in recent weeks after news stories, pictures and petitions circulated online.

It is a beef byproduct that consists of fatty scraps once only used in dog foods and oil.

In recent years meat companies have processed the scraps by heating them and exposing them to ammonia to kill bacteria, then grinding the scraps and adding them to ground beef.

An ABC News study found 70 percent of all ground beef contains the additive.

"It's all about making profits and a better bottom line." said Bret Pont, a butcher who owns Hobe Meats in Phoenix and does not use pink slime in his products.

"It's a way for them to generate extra profits on a product that was deemed useless and turn it into something they can get $4, $5 a pound for," Pont said.

Safeway announced early Wednesday that they will stop selling the products.

The company released this statement:

“Safeway is committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products.  While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean, finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product.  Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean, finely textured beef.”

A company representative said they will sell through product already in stores, but will not buy any new meat with the filler.

Albertsons, and its parent company Supervalu Inc. followed suit later in the day. Executive vice president of operations at Albertsons LLC Bob Butler said in a statement:

“While we recognize that there are no health or safety concerns with lean finely textured beef, we also want to be diligent in continuing to provide the products that our customers want. Over the last two weeks, our customers have made it clear that they would prefer to purchase fresh ground beef that is free of lean finely textured beef.”

Albertsons expects its transition away from the filler to be complete by April 23.

Both stores said they would not raise prices of ground beef as a result of the change.

Bashas, which owns AJ's and Food City,does not use the filler in any of its meat products.

Food Lion LLC, which does not operate grocery stores in Phoenix, said they will also stop selling meat with the filler.