Meat Processor Seeking Damages From ABC Over 'Pink Slime' Report

Ground beef without LFTB also known as

Ground beef without LFTB also known as"pink slime. Wikimedia Commons

Beef Products Inc (BPI), the largest manufacturer of LFTB, claims it had to close three processing plants and reduce its staff by 700. ABC News, a unit of the Walt Disney Co, contends that it never published anything that it knew to be untrue, that its reporting was in the public interest and that the health concerns it flagged up over BPI's "lean finely textured beef" (LFTB) may even have understated the dangers. If BPI wins at trial, its $1.9 billion claim could be tripled to $5.7 billion under provisions of South Dakota's Agricultural Food Product Disparagement Act.

The company is seeking $1.9 billion in a defamation lawsuit against ABC News and reporter Jim Avila.

BPI alleges that ABC misled viewers by calling "lean finely textured beef" (LFTB) "pink slime".

ELK POINT, S.D. | Lean Finely Textured Beef is a lot of things, a meat expert testified Wednesday. After five years, the case has made it to trial over ABC's First Amendment objections.

But what, exactly, is pink slime?

In response, ABC lawyer Kevin Baine comments, "We believe in the principle that people deserve to know what's in the food they eat and are confident that when all the facts are presented in court, ABC's reporting will be fully vindicated". "It's adding something to the product that's not meat or beef". According to Tyson's 2012 second-quarter earnings report, Tyson's beef pound sales dropped 9 percent and ground-beef sales dropped 7 percent, citing "extremely challenging market conditions".

On cross-examination from ABC's attorney Dane Butswinkas, the witness had to acknowledge that what's negative isn't necessarily what's false.

She said it is not a filler, nor pink slime or gelatin like, and is not from a part of a beef carcass subject to contamination. In a Wall Street Journal report BPI said in 2014 that its LFTB production had doubled since the lows, and Cargill said its own version was returning to the level seen before the backlash.

BPI states ABC's "misinformation battle" made their beef processor incomes plummet by eighty percent. LFTB, Butswinkas said, appeared to be just a different name for partially defatted chopped beef, the classification BPI's product fell under before it was approved as LFTB. Roughly 6 percent of the area labor force is involved in agriculture and related industries, according to the local chamber of commerce.

Considering the politics of the case and the location of the trial, McLaughlin and Huffstutter write, "The trial is being held in Elk Point, about 20 miles north of BPI's headquarters, which employs 110 people".

In order for BPI to stand high chances of winning the case, it needs to demonstrate that ABC deliberately set out to cause harm to the brand reputation or that the media organization was aware that the "pink slime" report it aired was false.

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