TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says the controversy over what the beef industry calls finely textured lean beef "is unmerited and unwarranted."
Speaking to reporters in Topeka, the Republican governor and former Kansas agriculture secretary said the "pink slime" used in beef products is safe and has been used by the meat industry for decades.
Officials at Beef Products - the main producer of "pink slime-" has stopped production at its Holcomb, Kansas; Amarillo, Texas; and Waterloo, Iowa, plants.
Beef Products is the main producer of the cheap lean beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts.
It has drawn extra scrutiny because of concerns about the ammonium hydroxide it treats meat with to slightly change the acidity of the beef and kill bacteria.
The suspension of operations at the Holcomb plant has caused a loss of 236 local jobs.
Employees will receive full salary and benefits until May 25. It's unclear whether the closings will be permanent.
Brownback planned to tour a beef plant in Nebraska along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to see how the product is made.