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Ground beef processor AFA Foods files for bankruptcy over 'pink slime' uproar

Pennsylvania-based company says it plans to sell some or all of its assets.

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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)

Ground beef processor AFA Foods filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, citing the impact of media coverage related to a meat filler dubbed as "pink slime."

AFA, based in Pennsylvania, is one of the largest ground beef processors in the United States and produces more than 500 million pounds of ground beef products annually, Reuters reported from documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

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

The company sells its retail products, which include frozen hamburgers, ready ground beef and beef skillet mix, under the brand names "Moran's" and "Miller Quality Meats, according to Reuters.

Beef Products Inc., an AFA competitor that treats boneless lean beef trimmings with ammonia hydroxide to kill pathogens, last week temporarily suspended production at three plants because of consumer concerns about "pink slime," Bloomberg reported.

More from GlobalPost: 'Pink slime' maker suspends operations at 3 of 4 plants

The phrase "pink slime" was first used by a former USDA microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, who used the term in a 2002 email to co-workers after having toured a BPI plant. The current debate began after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver drew attention to the product, according to Reuters.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said March 28 that the product, referred to in the industry as lean, finely textured beef, is safe to eat, the Ames Tribune reported.

That hasn't stopped several major supermarkets, fast food retailers and school districts nationwide from suspending use of any ground beef containing "pink slime," Bloomberg reported.

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

AFA has plants in California, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas and employs about 850 people full-time. As of December 2011, it posted annual revenue of $958 million, according to Reuters.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120402/ground-beef-processor-afa-foods-bankruptcy-pink-slime