ABC Settles ‘Pink Slime’ Case, Ending Ongoing Court Battle
Less than a month after the trial began, the legal battle between ABC News and Beef Products Inc has been settled… out of court. Though the name Beef Products Inc may sound forgettable, the product that made them famous is not: BPI makes “lean finely textured beef” – colloquially known as “pink slime.” That “pink slime” nickname is actually part of what inspired legal action in the first place: Beef Products sued ABC News claiming that its “false and disparaging” statements about “pink slime” during a 2012 report caused the company $1.9 billion in damages.
While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, it’s safe to assume that BPI got nowhere close to the nearly $2 billion they had been seeking. Eriq Gardner, who had been following the trial for The Hollywood Report, pointed out on Twitter that though “one would presume ABC paid something to end now,” the TV network offered “no retraction or apology” – making it seem like they were probably in the driver’s seat. Additionally, Gardner suggested that Beef Products “was taking a PR beating on cross-examinations” – not a good look for a brand seeking to use this lawsuit to help rebuild their business.
Still, BPI tried to spin the settlement as a bit of a win. “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,” the company said in the statement. “This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business, while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family.”
Meanwhile, ABC News’ statement could be seen as a bit more metered. “Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product,” the organization said in a post-settlement statement. “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.”
As for the future of “lean finely textured beef,” one would think that food producers have already made up their mind about the product either way. Though Beef Products’ attorney told Reuters that revenue dropped 80 percent after the ABC report, the company still had about 600 employees and $130 million in sales at that time. Obviously someone out there is still purchasing BPI’s “signature product.”