Another big chain drops pink slime from shelves

SAN JOSE, Calif.

For many consumers, the big quandary is what to do with ground beef containing pink slime you've already purchased? Fresh & Easy will take it on Wednesday and give you a package of its additive-free ground beef, no matter where you bought it originally.

Consumer reaction to pink slime has already prompted chain supermarkets Lucky and Save Mart to announce they're phasing out ground beef containing the additive. The official name is "lean finely textured beef." It is made of scraps from steaks and roasts. Ammonium hydroxide is sometimes used to kill bacteria.

"Just from what I've seen, the pictures they show, it doesn't look very appetizing and I don't think I want it in my ground beef," said Scott Mesa, a consumer.

Save Mart and Lucky, which are owned by the same company, would not talk to us on camera. It's not known how soon it will sell out of its existing supplies with pink slime. Safeway also is phasing it out. And a company that makes the additive has suspended production.

"They're finally doing something they should have been doing a long time ago, but to save the cost for themselves, they're like, 'let's pollute you guys,'" said Yolanda Pagaduan, a San Jose resident.

Pagaduan is a shopper at Fresh & Easy, an upscale market new to the Bay Area. Its ground beef has never used the controversial additive. And on Wednesday, anyone who has ground beef with pink slime can bring it into either of its two San Jose stores for a package of its ground beef.

"They can swap out package for package, and we're proud to stand behind that great food you can trust and to be a good neighbor, just to help out our communities. So in their cupboard or refrigerators, they know the product that they can stand behind," said Ryan Gizdich, a Fresh & Easy store manager.

Fresh & Easy is expecting a heavy turnout for what it calls its "swap meat." It will have 400 pounds of its ground beef ready to exchange.

"I shop here quite a bit, so I'm not surprised they would go do something like that," said Mesa.

The ground beef with pink slime can be fresh, frozen or already cooked. All Fresh & Easy stores in the Bay Area and throughout the state are participating.

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