Beef company files lawsuit over name for lean finely-textured beef

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photo courtesy of the Aggragate/MGN

Updated September 13, 2012:

Beef Products, Inc. filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News, alleging a “widespread campaign of misinformation” led to decreased demand for its product, eventually forcing the company to close three plants and laying off hundreds of workers.

BPI claims ABC News made about 200 “false and misleading and defamatory” statements about lean finely-textured beef, leading consumers to believe the product is not meat but instead a substance unfit for human consumtion.

ABC News senior vice-president Jeffrey Schneider said the lawsuit has no merit and he said, “We will contest it vigorously.”

Original story from September 12, 2012:

A company that produces lean finely-textured beef announced it will file a defamation lawsuit in connection with the use of the term “pink slime.”

Controversy erupted after a former USDA employee coined the term in an email reportedly written several years ago.  Several food-related websites, and eventually major news outlets, later began using the term.

Lean finely-textured beef is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts.  The bits are heated to remove fat, then exposed to ammonia to kill bacteria.  The Iowa beef industry says the process is 100% safe. 

Some grocery stores and companies stopped using and selling products that contained the lean finely-textured beef when consumers complained.  HyVee was one of those companies, but it later started selling it again.

Officials with Davenport Public Schools announced in June they would continue to serve the product in school lunches. 

About 200 people lost jobs when BPI closed its plant in Waterloo, Iowa because of decreased demand for lean finely-textured beef.   The Waterloo plant was one of three that BPI closed in May 2012. reports BPI officials planned to hold a news conference Thursday, September 13 at which they would announce the lawsuit.

(our sister station WHO contributed to this report)