CINCINNATI – The Kroger Co., the nation’s largest traditional grocer with 2, 435 stores, and Stop & Shop both announced they no longer will buy ground beef containing lean finely textured beef (LFTB). They join a growing list of retailers and foodservice companies that have made similar announcements.

The company said in a written statement released March 22: "Kroger listens to our customers carefully to provide the high-quality products they want at the great prices they deserve. Our customers have expressed their concerns that the use of lean finely textured beef— while fully approved by the USDA for safety and quality—is something they do not want in their ground beef. We highly value customer feedback, and the recent flood of news stories has diminished their confidence in the product. As a result, Kroger will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean finely textured beef."

LFTB meets federal food-safety standards, but critics have denounced the product as unsafe “pink slime” and an example of unsavory food manufacturing practices the food industry is trying to hide from consumers.
Stop & Shop said that while the US Department of Agriculture has deemed the product safe for consumption, customer concerns have prompted the decision to stop selling beef containing LFTB.

“We value the trusted relationship we have with our customers and their feedback on this issue,” the company said in a statement. “Stop & Shop will continue to communicate openly with customers and stands by the quality, safety and compliance of all products we sell.”

Safeway Inc., the second-largest US supermarket chain, announced on March 21 that it will stop buying ground beef containing LFTB. Stop & Shop, operated by Royal Ahold NV, runs 400 stores in the Northeast US. Also, Supervalu Inc. and the Food Lion chain, owned by the Delhaize Group, have announced those stores would not carry ground beef containing LFTB.

The impact of this announcement is far-reaching as these retailers operate large grocery chains. Safeway operates the Genuardi’s and Dominicks chains. Food Lion operates Bloom, Harvey’s and Reid’s stores, and Supervalu owns and operates Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star market, Shop ‘n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores.

The retailers join McDonald’s Corp., Burger King and Taco Bell as companies who have said they will not use ground beef that contains LFTB in their food items.