Pink Slime: Governor Terry Branstad says “shut up and eat your meat. “

The “pink slime” controversy took another turn lately when Governor Branstad was quoted in the Des Moines Register today that Congress should launch an investigation into who started the whole “pink slime” controversy: “We need to get to the bottom of this,” Branstad said. “We need to find who’s behind it and why they’re doing it.” His call for a federal inquiry has been picked up by the national media and could well result in congressional hearings. What you have to keep in mind is that if a person is subpoenaed to appear before a congressional committee then that person can be put under oath and prosecuted if they commit perjury. Usually, they are just “invited” to appear. Given that I know of no laws that were broken, I can’t see that a subpoena is warranted. But the beef industry has powerful friends and if they want to drag this out they can.
It would be a mistake. First, there are some people who hate meat and will seize upon this as an opportunity to get even more media attention. They might even be able to get some members of the committee to call their own spokespersons as witnesses so they can describe in even more graphic detail what goes into making meat products. McDonalds learned this the hard way when it filed a libel action against activists handing out anti-McDonalds literature. The resulting litigation lasted 15 years and resulted in the activists not only getting a huge and continuous amount of free publicity against McDonalds, but a judgment against McDonalds for violating their human rights.
Another reason is that further action against those who spoke up against “Pink Slime” is that it is a threat to free speech. Ultimately, whether you or I want to eat “finely textured beef” or “pink slime” is up to our own aesthetics and taste. If I don’t want to eat hotdogs because they are made of ears, sinuses, tongues, and butt holes, then that is my prerogative as a consumer. If I want to describe a meat product as “pink slime” then that is my right as a consumer and citizen.
Ultimately, we cannot force people to eat food that they find disgusting any more than the White House chef was able to force President George H. W. Bush to eat broccoli. Threatening them with legal action isn’t going to make people want to eat food that they don’t like and it sure isn’t going to stop them from talking about the heavy-handed (or perhaps “ham-fisted”) actions by politicians.
Food producers have to win the trust and confidence of consumers by selling good products that they want. No food producer (outside of vendors serving the prison and airline industries) has ever prospered by forcing their customers to eat crap.


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