Did you know there is a business called Beef Products, Inc? Kindov adorable, right? But the South Dakota company is suing ABC News for defamation and $1.2 billion in damages. The defamation is that ABC News called its product “pink slime”. Uh… evidently they’re claiming that the product they product is either not pink, not slimy or both? Pretty sure both are accurate and that this is a lame lawsuit.
BPI alleges that ABC reporters and hosts made 200 false statements over the course of a month about BPI’s product, known in the industry as lean, finely textured beef (LFTB).
“[ABC] did this with malice, and they knew what they were doing,” Dan Webb, an attorney with Winston & Strawn LLP representing the company, told reporters at a press conference at the company’s headquarters. “They decided to destroy this business… and they decimated the product in the marketplace.”
ABC’s report on March 7, and subsequent stories, led consumers to believe that LFTB was not actually beef and that it was unsafe, according to Webb.
LFTB, BPI’s sole product, is made from the trimmings of many cuts of beef. It’s often added to ground beef — at least until it became controversial earlier this year.
In 1998, Oprah was sued by Texas cattlemen for saying in a 1996 show on “mad cow” disease that it has “stopped her cold from eating another burger”. I remember it because I sided with the beef industry and thought Oprah should be sued – basically because I like hamburgers and didnt want someone going on tv badmouthing them. Before too long I realized the shame in my position and it became a turning point in my life that solidified the importance of accuracy and to live by the motto “FIRST tell the truth. THEN give your opinion”.
A federal jury decided that Oprah obviously didn’t slander the beef industry in 1998 and no jury is of course going to say that ABC News slandered Beef Products Inc by using the term “pink slime”.
Webb says the damages were caused by a “sustained, night-after-night” series of stories and ABC’s creation of a “blacklist” of BPI’s customers, including retailers like Safeway. And BPI says that ABC continued with its defamatory coverage even after BPI and others sent ABC evidence from U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, food safety organizations and beef industry experts that LFTB is a “safe, nutritious lean beef.”
Before the controversy exploded, BPI was a major supplier of lean finely textured beef to fast food outlets, the National School Lunch Program, and retail grocers around the country.
When consumers learned it was highly processed and treated with ammonia to kill bacteria — much like other meats — they launched boycotts and protests, eventually succeeding in getting major retailers to drop it.
Since then, the company says its LFTB production dropped from 5 million pounds to 2 million pounds. The company closed three out of its four plants and laid off more than 700 employees.