Beef Product Inc, the maker of Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), now commonly known as “pink slime,” on Thursday filed suit against ABC News, former U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, and a former company employee for alleged defamation of its product, which used to be a component of the vast majority of ground beef in the United States.
The suit, filed by the Dakota Dunes, SD-based company in South Dakota state court, seeks $1.2 billion in damages as well as punitive damages for what it calls a “sustained and vicious campaign” against LFTB that led consumers to believe the product is unhealthy, fraudulently labeled and unsafe.
Dan Webb, the lead attorney on the case, told reporters that the media firestorm earlier this year caused BPI “enormous financial harm,” including an 80 percent drop in business, $400 million in lost profit, 700 layoffs, and the closing of three of the company’s four plants. Webb said he believes the defamation in this case is “unparalleled.”
In their 263 page complaint, BPI alleges that ABC and others launched a “concerted disinformation campaign” including nearly 200 false or misleading statements that directly caused the company harm.
Elden Roth, founder and CEO of BPI, said he believes the media coverage of LFTB included “blatantly false and disparaging statements” which not only hurt his family and their businesses, but the families of those they employed.
ABC News said Thursday it would defend its news coverage against the allegations.
“The lawsuit is without merit. We will contest it vigorously,” said Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president at ABC News.
See more Food Safety News of the LFTB controversy:© Food Safety News