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Monday, September 17, 2012

BPI Suing ABC over 'Pink Slime' (Lean, Finely Textured Beef) Debacle

Hey - it's actually called Lean, Finely Textured Beef (LFTB).

You may have read/heard that Beef Products, Inc. filed a lawsuit against ABC and three news reporters (Diane Sawyer, Jim Avila and David Kerly) and are seeking $1.2 billion in damages for defamation. But you may be wondering how they can file a lawsuit against a news company and reporters. Let's get down to the facts, folks.

First off, we need to define defamation: it is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual or business, a negative or inferior image. In Common Law it is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (in this case BPI is defamed person). (

or in simpler terms:

Defamation is the false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel (

Basically, you can't go out and spread false information and not expect to be sued.

But what exactly is the claim against ABC?  

BPI claims that ABC did knowingly publish and report misinformation in 11 television reports and 14 online news items relating to BPI and LFTB that were false and misleading, which aired from March 7 to April 3. In a press conference on September 13, BPI's lawyers expressed that ABC had been provided with real factual information about LFTB from USDA and several other sources and still chose to release 25 reports that stated otherwise. The pushing of a negative agenda caused hundreds of thousands of parents to ask their schools to cease use of LFTB in lunch programs and ABC also created and release a 'blacklist' of grocery stores who were using LFTB. That's a lot of negative press in a 28 day period. So much negative press that BPI lost 80% of their business and was forced to shut down 3 of their 4 plants and let go of 650 employees. Ouch.

About that misinformation - let's clear some of that up. Here are the facts about LFTB.

- LFTB is 100% beef. One hundred percent.
- LFTB is a USDA approved product that is sanitized and made safer with a minuscule amount of ammonium hydroxide mist.
- Ammonium hydroxide is present in most foods - cheese, cereal, beer, bread, even fruits and veggies.
- LFTB is 94-97% lean. Meaning that when it is used, the product is lower in fat and is healthier than a 80% or 85% lean product.
- The photo that was splashed across every TV station and newspaper of pink oozy stuff coming out of a machine is not representative of LFTB. It wasn't even beef.

So, that's the bare bones facts of it all. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I personally don't see how BPI could lose this case. There were over 500 pages of evidence logged with the claim and it's hard to ignore the hundreds of jobs lost and nosedive of BPI's business.

If you want to read more about LFTB here are some good links

Engineering a safer burger - Washington Post article
Beef is Beef - a collection of articles and more hard facts about LFTB
Q & A about ammonium hydroxide in food production

And if you have questions, we'd love to hear them!

So now that you have the facts, what's your take?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~




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