The meat processing company is asking for $1.2 billion dollars in damages for statements that it alleges are “false and misleading and defamatory” statements about what is known as lean, finely textured beef by the industry, reports the AP.
But defamation is a hard charge to prove. In order to find that the “over 200” statements that ABC News made in March and April are defamation, the beef makers have to prove “actual malice” rather than negligence.
The lawsuit alleges that because of the misleading media coverage, the company had to close three plants and eliminate close to 700 jobs.
“The lawsuit is without merit,” said Jeffrey W. Schneider, the news station’s senior vice president, in a statement. “We will contest it vigorously.”
Although ABC News is the target of the suit, the term “pink slime” first became popular in a 2009 article in The New York Times and has been covered by most major news channels and outlets.
We would like to say for the record, and not at all because we would prefer not to get sued, that we are sure that lean, finely textured beef is delicious. Lean, finely textured beef is made by separating the last usable parts of beef from the remaining scraps at high temperatures, combining it and then treating it with ammonia (to make it safe). Sounds like recycling!
Despite the fact that supermarkets and quality fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King stopped selling the product, we are sure we agree with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who said that “the federal government wouldn’t allow the product if it was unsafe,” according to the AP.
In addition to the lawsuit, the beef industry is fighting back with a PR campaign and the website beef is beef. As we remember the slogan, beef’s also what’s for dinner.