Grocery Shoppers Wary of Butcher's Wares

Some Supermarkets Are Battling Fear With Transparency, But Not All Consumers Are Convinced

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"The morning after the reports came out, ground-beef sales dropped," said a meat manager for a major New York supermarket chain. "We ended up throwing chopped meat away. We don't even use pink slime and we had to put signs up everywhere saying that . People wouldn't even touch it."

Concerned about consumer aversion stoked by the media, supermarket chains such as Hy-Vee in the Midwest are trying transparency. The chain plans to sell beef made with and without filler and label the packages accordingly. Hy-Vee, which operates in the middle of beef-processing country, had originally announced that it would not sell any beef with filler in response to complaints after the ABC News report. "People did not like the sound of it and didn't like the name pink slime," said spokeswoman Ruth Comer. "Our job as a retailer is to try and respond to what customers want."

A third retailer has found a marketing opportunity in the slime frenzy. Tesco-owned Fresh & Easy, which has stores on the West Coast, on March 28 held a "pink slime swap meat," encouraging customers to bring in meat bought at other retailers in exchange for Fresh & Easy meat, which the company says has never included pink slime. The retailer urged consumers to tweet the news with a #SwapMeat hashtag.

Even so, some consumers remain unconvinced of even non-pink slime meat's purity. "I had one guy come in to buy ground beef and he had samples from four other grocery chains," said the meat manager. "He told me he was sending them all to a lab to test for pink slime."

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