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'Pink slime' maker suspends operations at 3 of 4 plants

Beef Products Inc. says it will work to address public concern about its ammonia-treated beef filler.

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SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 24: A stack of ground beef patties moves on a conveyor belt at a meat packing and distribution facility June 24, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

Beef Products Inc., the company that makes the much-maligned "pink slime," suspended operations Monday at three of four plants where the ammonia-treated ingredient is made.

Company officials told The Associated Press they are working to address public concern over the product.

"We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back," Craig Letch, the company's director of food safety and quality assurance, told the AP. "It's 100 percent beef."

More from GlobalPost: Pink slime: What's for lunch

The company will suspend operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kan.; and Waterloo, Iowa, according to the AP.

The company's plant at its Dakota Dunes, S.D., headquarters will continue operations, AP reported.

Federal regulators say the ammonia-treated meat filler, known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," meets food safety standards. But critics say the product could be unsafe and is an unappetizing example of industrialized food production, CBS News reported.

The low-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, according to the AP.

More from GlobalPost: McDonald's: Pink slime won't be used in hamburger meat

Last week, the Supervalu, Food Lion and Safeway Inc. supermarket chains announced they would no longer carry meat with the filler, and the New York City School District said it will not serve "pink slime" this fall, Reuters reported.

Kroger Co., the nation's largest traditional grocer with 2,435 supermarkets in 31 states, also said it will stop buying the beef, reversing an earlier decision that it would sell beef both with and without the additive, CBS News reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120326/pink-slime-maker-suspends-operations