Not long ago -- say, the winter of 2011-2012 -- Beef Products Inc. (BPI) of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, was just another faceless corporate cog in the American food system, producing a substance called finely textured lean beef, which few of us knew existed
Then along came an ABC News report that revealed finely textured lean beef as meat from beef trimmings separated from fat, blasted with ammonia gas and added to ground beef. Oh, and the ABC News report featured Gerald Zirnstein, a USDA microbiologist who dubbed the stuff "pink slime."
The name pink slime stuck. Things did not go well for BPI from there.
As consumers reacted with concern and outrage, causing grocery stores and other vendors to stop selling meat that included finely textured lean beef, a.k.a. pink slime, BPI shuttered plants and laid off workers.
Now, the Associated Press reports, BPI has filed suit against ABC News and several of the scientists interviewed in the network's reporting for defamation. BPI's suit seeks a cool $1.2 billion -- yes, $1.2 billion -- in damages.
Per the AP, the suit accuses ABC News of giving the "false and misleading" impression that finely textured beef, a.k.a. pink slime, is unsafe and unhealthy. As BPI points out, among those defending the substance as safe is U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Given the stakes of the suit, Gut Check advises patience in expecting an outcome.
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