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      BPI Amarillo suspends operations, 200 families affected

      BPI officials at a press conference Monday morning.

      H undreds of people are now without a job. That's because Beef Products Inc. is suspending operations at its Amarillo plant amid a public outcry about "pink slime."

      Amarillo's plant is one of three plants with operations being suspended. The other plants are located in Kansas and Iowa.

      "Due to repeated, inaccurate and frequently malicious news reports about our company and our product, our business has been severely impacted," Craig Letch, Director of Food and Safety and Quality Assurance for BPI said in a statement Monday. "As a result, we have no choice but to suspend operations at three plants, including the one that we opened here in Amarillo in 1981."

      Letch explained the public outcry of "pink slime" and the media's coverage of it is to blame. "Pink slime" is a low-cost beef filler that has become the target of activists wanting it banned from grocery stores and school lunches. Many grocery store chains have stopped carrying it, creating hard times for the company.

      In Amarillo alone, more than 200 people are losing their jobs. Combined with all the other plants that are suspending operations, Letch said 600 people are being put out of work.

      As for those who are being laid off, BPI said they will each receive two months worth of work paid along with benefits.

      "Despite the challenges we face, we know it is nothing compared to the challenges of losing a job in today's economy," Letch said. "That is why we made the decision to continue paying full salaries and benefits to all employees as we work through the immediate impact of today's announcement."

      BPI said it has hope that it will be able to reopen its facilities once people understand the truth about its beef products.

      The company created a special website about the facts of its beef, www.BeefIsBeef.com