Testimony has begun in the ‘Pink Slime’ case with a marketing expert testifying that after ABC News ran their report on Beef Products Inc.’s Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), more than 60 percent believed the product was not beef.
According to the Sioux City Journal, Ran Kivetz, who was hired by BPI lawyers, spent seven hours on the witness stand Tuesday — reviewing 12 broadcast stories ABC reported on LFTB. The term ‘pink slime’ was mentioned 350 times in those stories that were shown on TV, the network website, and through social media posts.
In separate surveys — after showing the ABC coverage on LFTB — 32 percent perceived it was not safe, 52 percent thought it had no nutritional value, and 31 percent believed BPI improperly obtained federal approval for the product.
Kivetz testified in day two of the South Dakota-based BPI’s $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC and correspondent Jim Avila.
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.
The estimated damages could be as much as $5.7 billion if BPI wins.