“Pink Slime” Settlement Reached

Brian GermanDairy and Livestock, General

South Dakota meat producer Beef Products Incorporated (BPI) has settled their lawsuit against ABC News over a 2012 report in which the network referred to BPI’s lean, finely textured beef product as “pink slime.”settlement in “pink slime” lawsuit

BPI initially sought $1.9 billion in damages from ABC, arguing that the network misled consumers to believe that their textured beef products were somehow unsafe.   ABC acknowledged that lean, finely textured beef is safe to eat and is a common ingredient made from trimmings of a cow that have been treated with ammonia to kill bacteria.  However, BPI claimed that the use of the phrase “pink slime” during the broadcast turned off customers.

Multiple grocery chains announced they would stop carrying the product after the report had aired.  The fallout from using the term “pink slime” resulted in a significant drop in demand, with sales falling from 5 million pounds a week to 2 million.  The company was forced to close three plants and lay off close to 700 employees.

The trial had the potential to cost ABC News as much as $5.7 billion in damages.  Under South Dakota law, damages can be tripled when a party purposefully disseminates false information regarding an agricultural product.

The terms of the settlement are confidential.