Why is “Pink Slime” Manufacturer Suing ABC News?

Pink Slim Closeup PictureBeef Products Incorporated (BPI) is suing ABC News and other media outlets for defamation. This, after news reports about its products earlier this year led to the company’s bankruptcy. BPI manufactures lean finely textured beef, but the nickname “Pink Slime” is the common vernacular.

The company is suing for $1.2 billion in damages! It claims that about 200 “false and misleading and defamatory” statements were made about its product which is a very cheap meat added to ground beef . To be more accurate, the product is a collection of the filthiest beef trimming scraps left over from meat packing plants. These trimming have their fat removed, then are ground and treated with ammonia to kill off potential pathogens. There is controversy as to the efficacy of the manufacturing process in elimination e coli bacteria. The calibration of the ammonia amount injected into the beef has been problematic – some consumers have complained of strange smells in their ground beef.

The term “pink slime” was coined in 2002 by a USDA microbiologist who wrote

“I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”

The New York Times ran an expose on pink slime in 2009, but it did not garner much public attention. But earlier this year, a food and policy blogger in Houston Texas started an online petition to have pink slime removed from her child’s school lunch. The campaign went viral and was picked up by ABC news. Supermarkets notified BPI that they would no longer be selling the products. Within weeks, the business collapsed.

No matter what efforts the management (and hired gun politicians) made to rectify the situation, the PR damage had been done. BPI and pink slime are history. Even Google sponsored links are not going to change the public’s perception.

google pink slimeThe lesson for other food manufacturers should be straightforward. In this day and age, you can’t hide information from the public. Be very open about what you are manufacturing, what ingredients you use, and how you are using them. The more transparent you are, the more trust you will gain.

  • Terry Madden

    I think they should be the ones being sued! It’s just not right! It shouldn’t even be given to dogs let alone people. They just want to make a buck on the life’s of other people! That is why the public should know what is in food. Stright talk on packing is what I think needs to be done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarapogue Sara Thompson

    The first time I heard about “pink slime” was on Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution (2nd season). I think it’s out there more than what the company believes – I think they just want someone to blame. We keep getting crap food and told that there’s nothing wrong with it or that we should just be grateful we have something to eat. I think it’s high time that people start standing up to these companies and say that their crap food and immoral practices must stop.

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  • sharon abler

    Now if only the media would report on GMO products and the harm they cause.