South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. is finally getting their case to court. Jury selection is set to start in the defamation case over ABC news reports on the company’s lean finely textured beef product (LFTB), which many critics named “pink slime.”
In their 2012 suit, BPI said ABC and the individuals named in the suit knowingly made false, defamatory, and disparaging statements regarding BPI and LFTB during a disinformation campaign. These statements were made even after BPI and others sent ABC factual information about LFTB, including conclusions from USDA, FDA, food safety organizations, and numerous beef industry experts that LFTB is a safe, nutritious lean beef. As result of the disinformation campaign, BPI sales declined from approximately 5 million pounds of LFTB per week to less than 2 million pounds per week, three BPI facilities have closed and more than 700 employees lost their jobs.
“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,” said Dan Webb, Chairman, Winston & Strawn LLP. “BPI has filed suit because their business has been severely damaged by this conduct. As a result, we will be asking a jury to award BPI over one billion dollars in compensatory and statutory damages, plus punitive damages.”
BPI seeks to recover damages for defamation, product and food disparagement, and tortious interference with business relationships.
The trial is expected to last until late July.