NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With a growing media storm surrounding “pink slime,” the closing of three production plants, including one in Texas, has been changed from “temporary” to “indefinite.”

On Monday, the company that makes “pink slime,” BPI, suspended operations at three of four plants, including one in Amarillo, saying the company would work to address public concerns.

While the official name for the product is finely textured beef, a microbiologist who allegedly was disgusted by it coined the term “pink slime.”

Now, a coalition of governors, including Rick Perry, have joined the cattle industry in saying the product is safe. In fact, Governor Perry is blasting the media for using the term “pink slime” to describe the meat filler.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association lobbyist Collin Woodall says the smear campaign against lean finely textured beef has now become a jobs issue.

“This is an entirely new level as we talk about over 650 jobs around the country. More importantly these are jobs in rural America.”

According to Woodall, once the jobs are gone there are few employment opportunities for the displaced workers.

“Not only is this a hit on these individuals and their families, and their future livelihood, but it’s a hit on these small town economies,” he said.

The manufacturer has said ammonia hydroxide is used on the beef product to ward off bacteria. The government, product producer and beef industry have all said lean finely textured beef is 100 percent beef and 100 percent safe.

To show their support for the product Governor Perry, along with the governors of Iowa and Kansas, and the lieutenant governors of South Dakota and Nebraska, will tour Beef Products Inc.’s plant in Nebraska on Thursday.

The state leaders issued a joint statement Wednesday to “set the record straight” about the beef product.

The statement said, in part, “Our states proudly produce food for the country and the world – and we do so with the highest commitment toward product safety. Lean, finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science.”

All of the governors had said they want to eat some of the meat while at the plant, to show that it is safe, but it’s unclear if that will happen.

Since the “pink slime” controversy exploded several grocers have stopped using the product.

Safeway Inc., the company that operates Randalls and Tom Thumb stores in Texas, Kroger, Supervalu Inc., the company that operates Albertsons in Texas, HEB and Austin-based Whole Foods have all said they will no longer sell products with the beef additive. School districts soon will be able to opt out of using the ammonia-treated ground beef filler.

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