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Outcry over 'pink slime' hurting beef demand

In this undated image released by Beef Products Inc., boneless lean beef trimmings are shown before packaging. The debate over “pink slime” in chopped beef is hitting critical mass. The term, adopted by opponents of “lean finely textured beef,” describes the processed trimmings cleansed with ammonia and commonly mixed into ground meat. Federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. Critics liken it to pet food _ and their battle has suddenly gone viral amid new media attention and a snowballing online petition. (AP Photo/Beef Products Inc.)
In this undated image released by Beef Products Inc., boneless lean beef trimmings are shown before packaging. The debate over “pink slime” in chopped beef is hitting critical mass. The term, adopted by opponents of “lean finely textured beef,” describes the processed trimmings cleansed with ammonia and commonly mixed into ground meat. Federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. Critics liken it to pet food _ and their battle has suddenly gone viral amid new media attention and a snowballing online petition. (AP Photo/Beef Products Inc.)AP

The controversy over the ground beef filler dubbed "pink slime" has hurt U.S. ground beef demand, a Tyson Foods executive said  Tuesday.

Heightened awareness and debate over the product, which the industry calls lean finely textured beef, has "put a fair amount of pressure on ground beef consumption," Tyson Chief Operating Officer Jim Lochner said during a presentation at an investor conference hosted by Morgan Stanley.

Concern over the filler, made from scraps of beef sprayed with an ammonia gas to kill any bacteria, has prompted major grocers and fast-food chains, from Wal-Mart to McDonald's, to stop buying ground beef made with it.

"In the short run, the negative publicity, I do believe, had an impact negatively on ground beef demand, which will recover, I think, quite quickly," said Lochner, according to a transcript of the presentation.

"When you look at it, it was really a two-week event," he said.

Tyson is the largest meat processor in the United States.

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