WASHINGTON – Thirty members of Congress signed on to a letter calling on US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to educate consumers about lean finely textured beef (LFTB) and counter what lawmakers called a “smear campaign” against the product and its manufacturers.

“We have been watching with great concern as this campaign of misinformation has unfolded and have been particularly concerned about the loss of jobs that’s resulted from it,” the letter stated. “No company should be forced to close its doors due to a smear campaign by a few overzealous individuals in the media. LFTB is a safe product and should be promoted as such.”

Legislators expressed concern over the job losses precipitated by the controversy over LFTB and the potential impact it may have on retail beef prices. Lawmakers also asked Vilsack to provide them with USDA’s plans to combat misperceptions about LFTB.

“We agree with you that consumers should always have the ability to exercise choice in the marketplace. … However, in the current environment of rampant and intentional mischaracterization and misinformation, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure consumers are able to make choices that are based on facts, rather than emotion and hysteria,” the letter concluded.