All the bad press a few months ago about so-called "pink slime" being used as an additive in ground beef has left consumers paying more for their hamburger - just as the calendar turns to the grilling season.  Butchers and meat processors have primarily removed the meat additive in response to the outrage that occurred as American consumers were made aware of LFTB (lean, finely textured beef) additives.

But, that removal has come at a cost.

The effort has helped lift retail beef prices just ahead of the U.S. grilling season while compressing margins for beef processors who have struggled in recent years to cope with rising feed costs and falling per-capita consumption.

The cost of top-grade leaner beef trimmings, which do not require as much processing to reduce the fat content, have surged to historic highs this month. Meanwhile, the price for trimmings that contain 50 percent fat - the raw material used to produce LFTB - has plummeted to multi-year lows.

To combat the prices that are sure to cause complaints, beef processors are on the lookout for a substitute.