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ABC News is sued for $1.2 billion over “pink slime.”

When ABC News reported about “pink slime” in beef earlier this year, the nation paid attention. Within days of the initial report – which focused on lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) from Beef Products Inc. (BPI) -- moms were petitioning to make sure LFTB wasn’t served in school cafeterias and grocery stores, and fast-food chains pulled their contracts to purchase the beef. The result was that BPI was forced to close three of its four plants, laying off 650 workers and losing 80% of its business in 28 days.

A Closer Look: End The Hysteria! Pink Slime Is A Myth! 

In a Sept. 13 press conference, BPI announced it is suing ABC News for defamation over its coverage of their beef products, citing 11 television reports and 14 online news items relating to BPI and LFTB that were false and misleading, which aired from March 7 to April 3. The company is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.

BPI believes the reports created the wrong impression that LFTB is a chemical product, not beef. Some articles even intimated that this safe beef 100% beef product was a substance scraped off the floor of packing plants, thereby repulsing consumers and creating a horror story in the beef industry. I've read reports that the image of “pink slime” used in so many of the LFTB reports was actually chicken, not beef.

What exactly is LFTB? Let’s Clear The Air On “Pink Slime.” 

The lawsuit filed in a South Dakota state court also sues ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, Jim Avila and David Kerly, as well as the USDA microbiologist who coined the term "pink slime." The challenge will be proving that ABC News actually caused damage to the company, which in my opinion is quite obvious. The loss of hundreds of jobs, the closing of three plants, the rejection of the product in restaurants and schools, and the “pink slime” term that will plague the company for years to come -- yep, that sounds like damage to me.

What to learn more about LFTB? Check out the company’s website, Beef Is Beef

At the end of the day, the beef industry is vulnerable when consumers are confused about our practices. Whether it’s castrating, dehorning, using ammonia to kill bacteria, using implants in feeder cattle or giving antibiotics to prevent diseases -- if consumers have questions about it, and we fail to explain it with both emotional conviction and sound science, the media will do the talking for us. And that could have a huge impact on how we do business in the future. BPI learned this the hard way, and that’s why the company  launched a website explaining the LFTB process. Are we going to wait until it’s too late before we start talking about what we do on our ranches and feedlots?

What do you think about the lawsuit? Is BPI right to go after ABC News? Will this just bring back the whole discussion of “pink slime” again? How do you predict the lawsuit turning out?

Discuss this Blog Entry 14

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

BPI is a big boy! They have helped destroy the little man. I hope the courts throw them out the first day!!!

Bryan (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

I applaud BPIs effort. "Mainstream" media has gotten away with telling biased, misleading, sensationalized lies for years. We as individuals, organizations, and industries need to tell our stories and stand up for what we believe in before so-called news agencies "create" stories that mislead public perception and dictate public policy. As a whole, our society has lost the skill of critical thinking. If all the public hears are the lies...they believe the lies! Go BPI!

Shelley (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

BPI is being extremely foolish. It's highly unlikely it will win the lawsuit. It certainly isn't going to 'clear the air' or somehow miraculously change people's minds.

There's no confusion: people don't want beef that have had scrap ('trimming') heated to a point where the fat liquefies, which is then spun off in a centrifuge. That is not what we consider to be "fresh ground beef".

And people want to know what they're eating. The use of this material should have been on labels.

When are you all going to finally realize that you can't hide from consumers forever?

Jherl (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

Shelley, you are correct, maybe this should have been labeled for the consumer to make their own choice. However, the point still remains that the news media and the idiots in USDA need to be held to higher standards and should not be able to print lies, mistruths and inuendos. This type of yellow journalism affects everybody at some point in time.

Harley (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

Shelly. When you grill your hamburger or cook a roast in the crock pot, isn't the meat heated to a point where the fat liquifies and is separated from the meat? And when you boil a bone for stew meat aren't you basically using the trimmings? People do want to know what they are eating, but they deserve to know the truth presented in a factual way.

on Sep 17, 2012

Lftb is ground beef, no different than other ground beef. It's ground from pieces of steak, roast, even pieces of prime rib.
Shelley, Are the knife and the grinder any less mechanical that the centrifuge? I think not.
The temperature its warmed to during the the process is about 100 degrees. That's almost the body temperature of the steer it came from. Not quite.

The suit is not going to educate misinformed consumers about the facts. That's largely the responsibility of the consumers themselves, but, when supposedly reputable sources intentionally mislead or misinform consumers, that source needs to be held accountable. It's just to bad it takes legal/civil action to bring irresponsible reporting to judgment.

Jim (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

I applaud BPI for having the courage to Challenge false reporting. The mainstream media wants to "make" the news anymore rather than report it. I will bet that the lawsuit stands and is settled out of court.

jodi (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

if BPI should have "informed" consumers about the making of their product, then all food products should have to have labeling describing the production process. The product is beef, it is safe beef, and allows more complete use of slaughtered animals, minimizing waste. Nobody has ever made THIS BIG of a stink about hot dogs, which are slimy and pink, or plain ground beef which is slimy and pink, or chicken, which is slimy and pink, etc. The media propelled this nonsense forward falsely, and knowingly. There are quantifiable damages and otherwise. That is all that SHOULD matter in a just court of law. Whether it will or not, we will see how intelligent the jury of peers is.

Kentucky (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

More power to them, I hope they get every penny they are asking for. It is time the media is held accountable for what they do and say.
I bet the people that lost their jobs would like to see the true story told.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

I believe BPI should sue! ABC should of looked at the product and the real facts before they aired and used the slang pink slime and so many times, LFTB is real beef and I consume it. I would rather have my children eat LFTB than have a bout with ecoli. I hope they take them to the cleaners.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

The media needs to be held accountable and to reprt properly and an unbias report.

my vote is that ABC have to pay and pay big tie as it is the only thing they understand

Terry Church (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

The media has fired up the public for years with misleading half truths and what ever it takes to sell a story. It would be great if the media would tell the whole truth and give equal, unbias information to the public about all the sides involved. We all know realistically that the media is not going to do this.
I feel that the media filled the public with misleading and half truths about LFTB (Pink Slime). I personally believe the beef to be safe and wholesome. We as consumers do not know how all the food products we purchase are processed. Do we really want to know? If we knew how all the food was processed or what is in some of the foods we consume, we might not want to eat them. Ever read what is in Potted Meat and similar products or wonder how they're processed? LFTB is a product that has been around for a long time, its not something that justs getting started.
Lean finely textured beef was the one attacked by the media this time. Who or what will it be the next time?
The media attacked BPI and costs alot of people their jobs and the company they worked for millions of dollars. The media didn't care what it costs the people who worked at BPI. They (the media) still had their jobs and money in their pockets. We are in a struggling economy, and people need their jobs and income. These folks lost their livehoods and may lose their homes, cars, and many other things they have worked hard to have. There's alot more to consider than just LFTB.
Just put yourselves in these folk's shoes.
No matter how the law suit turns out, maybe the media will be a little more reluctant on what they report.
Probably not!

t (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

If the beef industry made a product they were proud of and if they were transparent, this kind of thing would not even be an issue.
Enough said.
t

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 19, 2012

Maybe we will now learn how the obscure emails, etc. became mainstream.

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