ABC News has settled the $1.9 billion obloquy case filed against it by Beef Products Inc. (BPI), an American Meat Processing Company this Wednesday.
The American news network's reports dubbed the finely textured beef products “Pink Slime” which resulted in an outcry from concerned consumers. BPI then filed a defamation case against the network which has now been settled.
The terms of the settlement including its amount are currently kept confidential, the Sioux City Journal reported.
ABC's ''Pink Slime'' Reports Cost 700 Workers Their Job
The South Dakota-based BPI sued ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and reporter Jim Avila for $1.9 billion in 2012, saying ABC’s coverage misled consumers into believing the product is unsafe, is not beef and isn’t nutritious. BPI claimed the reports led to the closure of three plants and layoffs of roughly about 700 workers.
Source: Nati Harnik
ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend said in a statement Wednesday that throughout the case, the network has maintained its reports accurately and presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about the product.
On Townsend's own words:
“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.”
In one report, former USDA scientist and a whistleblower, Gerald Zirnstein said 70 percent of ground beef contained 'pink slime’; a food additive made from trimmings and exposed to ammonia gas before it was used as a filler in packages labeled 100 percent beef.
Due to this, BPI claimed that the sales declined from about five million pounds per week to less than two million pounds per week.
Conolly also stated:
"If you judge this product on the truth, there is not a better product that goes into ground beef."
Slender, finely textured beef can be added to ground beef to reduce the overall fat content. It's made from trimmings left after a cow is butchered. The meat is separated from the fat, and ammonia gas is applied to kill bacteria.
ABC Settles Privately with Meat Producers
An unfavorable outcome in the trial against ABC and correspondent Jim Avila, which started earlier this month, could have had severe consequences for both ABC and its parent company, Walt Disney. However, ABC managed to settle the defamation suit beforehand.
Beef Products was seeking $1.9 billion in “treble” damages, but under a South Dakota law, that sum could have grown to as much as $5.7 billion. The trial was scheduled to last until late July. The settlement announcement came on the trial's 18th day in state court in Elk Point, South Dakota.
Diane Sawyer talking about 'Pink Slime'
“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,” the company and family said in the statement.
"This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family.''
BPI lawyer Erik Connolly also said that the trial and settlement were opportunities for the company to exonerate its product.