Pink Slime and the Downside of Consumer Movements

Stakeholder input is certainly an important part of corporate responsibility.

The prevalence of social media increases the impact of civil society and many are hopeful that consumer action will help drive sustainable behavior.

In this post, and others, I have expressed my doubts about whether consumers will put their purchasing power into action to support sustainability.

But even if they do, the activities of the last few weeks on pink slime make me question whether consumers,  on the occasions they are motivated to act for sustainability, even make the right decisions.

This blog from The Washington Post, is one of many that highlights the downside of stopping our use of pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB).  LFTB maximizes the use of each  slaughtered cow.    Refraining from using it will increase the number of cows killed and the burden on the environment (including climate change).

The Opinion section of the New York Times this past Sunday carried this article that highlighted that LFTB has a relatively high nutrition for low cost and low fat. LFTB also has a good safety record.  It reports that the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumers League defended the product. The reaction to the public outcry has caused job losses already.

The reaction to LFTB fails it seems on almost every measure of corporate responsibility and sustainability; environment, resources, animal rights ethics, jobs, nutrition, health.

Perhaps worth noting that there was no immediate and direct cost impact apparent to consumers for speaking up against LFTB. A convenient untruth it seems is more powerful than an inconvenient truth.


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