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While we can’t predict the next public-relations crisis in animal agriculture, we can learn from past experiences and perhaps stamp out the spark before it becomes a firestorm. At last week’s Cattle Feeders Business Summit hosted by Merck Animal Health in Denver, several speakers outlined efforts to avert or manage these issues, with several saying the industry is better prepared than ever to do so.

The case of lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) serves as a classic example of an issue that quickly spun out of control, and as an opportunity to learn how to prevent similar crises in the future. Danette Amstein, co-founder of Midan Marketing in Statesville, North Carolina, described her company’s research into the LFTB issue during the fall of 2012, several months after the media storm subsided.