ABC News, beef company settle 'pink slime' lawsuit

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  June 28, 2017 at 1:17 PM
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June 28 (UPI) -- ABC News settled a defamation lawsuit from Beef Products Inc. over its reporting on the use of lean, finely textured beef product, which came to be derided as "pink slime."

Beef Products Inc. sued ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer and reporter Jim Avila for $1.9 billion in 2012 months after the reports aired. The details of the settlement announced on Wednesday were not disclosed.

"ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of 'lean finely textured beef,' the network said in a statement. "Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the company's interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer's right to know about the products they purchase."

Following the ABC News reports, the food company, based in Dakota Dunes, S.D., said it had to close three of its four plants and cut more than 650 jobs since controversy erupted over its product. Many restaurants, supermarket chains and schools vowed not to use the processed beef in response to worries from consumers about the quality of the ground meat.

Lean, finely textured beef is made up of the fatty scraps of beef left over after steaks and roasts are cut from cattle carcasses. Lean meat is separated from the fat in a centrifuge and is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill potentially deadly pathogens.

The ABC News reports said that the product was not unsafe to eat but said the company did not disclose when it was included in its beef.

Dan Webb, an attorney for Beef Products Inc., told CNN Money his clients were "extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement."

"This was a long road to travel for BPI," Webb said. "We felt the trial was necessary to rectify the enormous financial harm that had been suffered by BPI as a result of what we believed to be extraordinarily biased and baseless reporting by ABC in 2012."

The trial began on June 5 in Elk Point, S.D., and a settlement was reached before ABC began its defense.

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