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Pink slime and the supply chain

The supply chain for any manufacturer can be complicated, but when it comes to food, the stakes are as high as human life. All it takes is one compromised ingredient and a long and complicated chain must be quickly untangled to make things safe again. That’s what happening right now in the ground beef industry as producers are scrambling to remove the ground-beef filler known as pink slime from the supply chain.

Pink slime, as you may have heard, is a lean, finely textured product that is made from beef scraps. It’s sometimes treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria. The stuff has been widely used for many years, but because of recent consumer awareness and public outcry, many grocery chains and restaurants have promised not to sell meat containing the product any longer.

According to estimates as much as 50 million pounds of the additive are used in ground beef every year. You can imagine how removing this one element is reverberating through the supply chain from consumers to restaurants, schools and grocery stores, the beef and additive producers, eventually reaching the rancher who raises the beef to begin with.

When events like these happen, communicating with everyone along the chain can be onerous. Using a good notification system can make the task more bearable. Find out how it’s done in this story from Canadian Manufacturing entitled Supply Chain Management from Farm to Fork.