Beef Products Inc. Files Defamation Lawsuit for ‘Pink Slime’ Story

by tylercook on October 6, 2012

  • Sharebar

On Thursday, September 13, Beef Products Inc. (BPI) announced that it filed a defamation suit against ABC News for creating a media storm over a beef product they dubbed “pink slime.” BPI alleges that the negative publicity led to decreased demand for their products. The lawsuit was filed in a state court in Elk Point, South Dakota.

 Defamation Suit Filed against ABC News

The lawsuit names ABC News as a defendant. Several news anchors, including Diane Sawyer and Jim Avila, have also been named as defendants. According to the lawsuit, ABC News was responsible for at least 200 “false and disparaging statements” about LFTB. Because of the negative publicity, BPI’s sales dropped by nearly 80 percent.

According to Dan Webb, the attorney representing BPI, ABC News engaged in a huge, focused attack on the company. He claims that, despite media coverage insinuating otherwise, the so-called “pink slime” is 100 percent beef.

Jeffrey Schneider, the Senior Vice President of ABC News, stated that the “lawsuit is without merit.” The news company intends to fight BPI’s claim.

Negative Publicity Led to Huge Drop in Sales

The term “pink slime” was first used by USDA scientist Gerald Zirnstein to describe LFTB in a 2002 email to USDA colleagues. He has been an outspoken critic of the product.

The beef product at issue refers to lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which consists of heated beef trimmings that are treated with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. Combining LFTB with ground beef helps the company keep prices low and reduces the fat content of beef products. LFTB has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as safe for human consumption.

After several news reports about LFTB were released, many companies pulled products containing the substance. Several grocery chains responded by publicly announcing that they would no longer sell beef that contained LFTB. Many school districts refused to purchase beef with LFTB. BPI faced significant consumer backlash due to the negative publicity.

As the demand for products with LFTB fell, BPI announced that it would suspend operations at all of its plants except the one based in South Dakota. By closing three of its plants, BPI was forced to lay off 700 workers. The company blamed the poor sales on news organizations for misrepresenting the company’s product and processes.

AFA Foods Inc., another meat processor, filed for bankruptcy protection in April. The company claims that the excessive media coverage over the LFTB product had severely decreased demand for its products.

Following the public backlash against the beef industry, the American Meat Institute began providing fact sheets about LFTB in attempt to ease consumers’ concerns about the product. Elected officials also attempted to alleviate consumers’ fears and encourage them to continue purchasing beef products.

 BPI Seeks $1.2 Billion Plus Punitive Damages

BPI seeks $1.2 billion in damages. The company is also seeking punitive damages. They claim that, even though the USDA approved the product as safe to eat, the news coverage led consumers to falsely conclude that the LFTB was unsafe.

In order for BPI to win the defamation suit, the company must be able to prove that ABC News knew that they were reporting false information. BPI must also prove that ABC News intended to harm the company.


This article was written by Samantha Ross on behalf of  Clear your Name Fast.  She knows it is important to seek assistance when facing misdemeanors, slander, and many other issues.




Latest posts by tylercook (see all)

No related posts.

Previous post:

Next post: