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Consumers today are increasingly interested in how their food is produced, especially meat and livestock products. The media sources consumers use for information on food production and safety are changing, as evidenced by the lean finely textured beef (LFTB) event in the spring of 2012. Social media and online availability of information are changing not only the mode of communication, but rapidly increasing the speed of information and knowledge exchange. The objectives of this analysis are to quantify the media stories surrounding LFTB and to characterize consumers’ concern, knowledge and purchasing behavior about LFTB. Media counts were constructed using the LexisNexis Academic Database using “All News English” and “Major World Publications” sources. The main peaks in the number of media stories occurred the week of March 25th, two weeks after the airing of an ABC News story that was widely viewed to have been at the forefront of the LFTB debate in 2012. However, LFTB stories continued beyond March 2012 and were still being published throughout the entire period analyzed. Of the eight topics investigated, consumer and government were the most discussed topics in conjunction with LFTB. LFTB producers and meat processors topics lagged behind other topics, potentially indicating a reactive approach by these groups. In order to better understand consumers’ concerns, knowledge and perceptions of LFTB a survey was conducted; most participants had heard of “pink slime” (the name used in the media for LFTB) while only about one-third had heard of LFTB. Only 11% of participants indicated they had purchased LFTB in the past six months, however, 80% reported purchasing ground beef in the past six months, leading to questions surrounding consumers linking LFTB to ground beef. Most participants were not willing to purchase LFTB in the future.


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