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Their 'finely textured beef product' impugned as 'pink slime,' makers file lawsuit

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 14th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Incensed that their "finely textured beef product" has been denounced as "pink slime" in the media, Beef Products Inc. has announced a $1.2 billion lawsuit against ABC News. Three reporters -- Diane Sawyer, Jim Avila and David Kerley, among others are named in the suit.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "There has to be some consequences for news organizations to be more truthful," Beef Products Inc. founder Eldon Roth said in a video. "They hurt real people, and a lot of people."

ABC News was just one of many media outlets reporting on the controversial product earlier this year, but BPI has focused in on the media giant for what it calls a "concerted disinformation campaign" against their product.

Company's lawyer Dan Webb wrote in a public statement, "Through nearly 200 false, misleading and defamatory statements, repeated continuously during a month-long disinformation campaign, ABC and other individuals knowingly misled consumers into believing that LFTB was not beef and not safe for public consumption, which is completely false."

The company is asking for an award of more than $1 billion in compensatory and statutory damages, plus punitive damages for "defamation, product and food disparagement, and tortious interference with business relationships."

Webb stated today in a phone call with reporters that, "The evidence is overwhelming that our product is 100 percent beef."

The product is produced by grinding together beef scraps and connective tissue. The company then uses a mixture of ammonia and water to prevent the risk of E. coli or salmonella contamination.

While the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service both consider ammonium hydroxide as "generally recognized as safe," McDonald's has since announced that it has discontinued the use of "select beef trimmings." The popular fast food chain had come under fire after the episode for using the filler in its hamburger patties.

"For a number of years prior to 2011, to assist with supply, McDonald's USA used some lean beef trimmings treated with ammonia in our burgers. We were among other food retailers who used this safe product," the fast food chain said in a statement.

"At the beginning of last year, we made a decision to stop using this ingredient. It has been out of the McDonald's USA supply chain since last August."

Taco Bell and Burger King have reportedly also discontinued use of BPI's product, along with supermarket chains Safeway, SUPERVALU and Food Lion.

Adding to the public condemnation, blogger Bettina Seigel started a Change.org petition asking USDA to stop the use of LFTB in ground beef destined for school food. The United States Department of Agriculture in response announced that beginning in the fall of 2012 it would offer school districts a choice of beef either with LFTB or without the filler.

Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News said in a statement, "The lawsuit is without merit...We will contest it vigorously."

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