Aside from being a pretty righteous name for a punk band, “Pink Slime” is the sobriquet bestowed on a certain highly processed beef byproduct after a series of ABC News reports on the product’s potential dangers and general gross-out factor. The term was coined by former FDA scientist Gerald Zirnstein, who says that “pink slime”—made by dousing beef trimmings otherwise used in dog food in ammonia gas and pressing them into bricks—is commonly added to ground beef without consumers’ knowledge. Now, ABC has settled a lawsuit brought by the makers of the aforementioned byproduct, claiming that it lost business because of ABC’s reporting.
Shortly after the report above aired in 2012, South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. sued ABC and correspondent Jim Avila for defamation, pointing out that “pink slime” is technically referred to by the marginally more appetizing name of “lean finely textured beef.” Initially, the company sued for damages totaling $1.9 billion, claiming it lost business and had to lay off employees when horrified consumers demanded that grocery chains stop using the stuff to stretch their hamburgers.
ABC News’ own report doesn’t state the terms of its financial settlement with BPI, but the network says in a statement that it does not retract its reporting on the issue and “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.” BPI, meanwhile, puts a more positive spin on the settlement, saying, “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.” See, everything is fine. Who wants to have a cookout?