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Your kids will eat pink slime meat! And no one should dare question the integrity of pink slime. At least that’s the message being sent by South Dakota meat processor, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), as they smack ABC News with a whopping $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit for dissing their “lean finely textured beef,” now nicknamed “pink slime” by many. Apparently, BPI filed court papers saying that ABC tricked consumers into believing that this meat is not safe, not healthy, and not even meat. In a statement, Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News said, “The lawsuit is without merit. We will contest it vigorously.” At least ABC News has some company. BPI not only filed a 263-page complaint about how ABC made 200 false, defamatory and disparaging statements in their reports and in social media postings, they’re suing individuals as well, including ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, the reporters Jim Avila and David Kerley, and three others who appeared or were quoted in the reports, one of which was a former BPI employee.

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“What do you want?” Cows graze in the pastureShutterstock Image

BPI is in an uproar about all the media attention, likely because they’re the largest U.S. producer of lean finely textured beef in the country. Pink slime meat as it’s so aptly been nicknamed, is a meat filler product made from fatty trimmings which are sprayed with ammonia to kill any lingering bacteria. Not surprisingly, government agencies approve of pink slime’s safety, but many critics seriously question it’s safety – let me just reiterate – this is meat washed with ammonia. Ammonia! In fact, pink slime is so debated that for years, fast food companies have chosen not to serve it, but schools, working with small budgets will serve it to kids. That all ended last March, when parents rallied together to stop pink slime from being served in schools. This has resulted in some major problems for BPI, including shutting down three of their plants, cutting 700 jobs and experiencing a loss of more than $20 million in revenue each month. BPI also says weekly sales of beef filler (pink slime) have fallen from 5 million pounds per week to less than 2 million pounds.

The meat industry has had a tough go lately. For example, recently, after the USDA said Meatless Monday rocked, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) flew into attack mode criticizing the USDA and Meatless Monday alike. I can’t say I’m sad for the meat industry. A meatless diet is healthier for people and the planet (not to mention all those cows). Most think the lawsuit has zero chance, especially since everyone and their dog has been writing about pink slime for years and years, not just ABC. What do you think? Is this a bogus lawsuit or a necessary action on the part of BPI?

+ Case: Beef Products Inc. et al v. American Broadcasting Cos. et al, Circuit Court of South Dakota, Union County