ABC Faces Continued Billion-Dollar Lawsuit for Calling “Lean, Finely Textured Beef” “Pink Slime”
A South Dakota judge has given a green light to a suit against ABC News over “pink slime.”
In 2012, ABC broadcast a series of reports about the use of “lean, finely textured beef,” or as it was called in the reports, pink slime. Beef Products Inc., BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Machines Inc., based in South Dakota, claim the beef additive they make, made from low-grade meat trimmings, is safe to eat and lowers the price of meat.
The three meat companies filed a $1.2 billion suit in 2012 against ABC, claiming the network, including anchor Diane Sawyer, ran a “disinformation campaign” against the additive. On Thursday, a judge in Union County, South Dakota rejected 21 of 26 motions to dismiss filed by the network and its claim that its broadcasts were protected free speech.
According to the suit, “There is not a more offensive way of describing a food product than to call it ‘slime,’ which is a noxious, repulsive, and filthy fluid not safe for human consumption.”
The plaintiffs are also claiming that by publicizing the supermarket chains that sold pink slime, their business was damaged.
The trimmings used to make pink slime are more susceptible to fecal contamination than regular cuts of meat. To make the meat able to be consumed, the trimmings are cooked, the fat is separated out and the remainder is sprayed with ammonia hydroxide gas to kill remaining germs.
Although Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering allowed the suit to go forward, she did not rule on whether defamation or disparagement took place.
“In making this ruling, it must be noted that the issue before the court is whether the plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged, as a matter of law, claims for defamation and disparagement,” Gering wrote. “The court is not reaching any conclusions as to whether the alleged defamatory or disparaging statements are actually true or not true.”
To Learn More:
Slime Defamation Suit May Stick Against ABC (by David Lee, Courthouse News Service)
Why the ABC News ‘Pink Slime’ Ruling Is Bad for the Media Business (by Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter)
Meat Producer Sues ABC over Pink Slime Accusations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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