Meat Producer Reaches Settlement With ABC Over 'Pink Slime'
Beef Products Inc. (BPI) has reached a settlement with American Broadcasting Company (ABC) over a defamation lawsuit involving reporter Jim Avila’s 2012 report over BPI’s ground-beef product. While the exact details of the settlement are undisclosed, BPI claimed $1.9 billion in damages, which could have been tripled to $5.7 billion under South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act.
"While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012," South Dakota-based BPI said in a statement.
BPI’s “pink slime” product is actually Lean Finely-Textured Beef. This product is made with beef chunks, including trimmings, and exposed to bursts of ammonium hydroxide to kill E. Coli bacteria and other contaminants.
"Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious."
In the aftermath of ABC's broadcasts, BPI closed three of its four processing plants and said its revenue dropped 80 percent to $130 million. The company had around 1,300 employees before the reports. Some 700 were let go shortly after, Erik Connolly, a BPI attorney said.
In its statement on Wednesday, ABC indicated that it stood by its reporting. "Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product," the statement said. "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."
The trial began on June 5 in Elk Point, South Dakota and was expected to last 8 weeks before the settlement was reached.