YANKSTON, S.D. (Legal Newsline) - ABC News is being sued by a South Dakota meat processing company for $1.2 billion.
The company alleges that the network defamed the company by its reportage of its product, dubbed "pink slime" by the newscasters - which is officially called lean, finely textured beef.
The suit, filed Thursday in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of South Dakota by Beef Products Inc., claims that ABC, "knowingly and intentionally published nearly 200 false and disparaging statements regarding BPI and its product, lean finely textured beef."
The company alleges that ABC "engaged in a month-long vicious, concerted disinformation campaign against BPI, companies that produced a safe, nutritious beef that has lowered the cost of lean ground beef sold to consumers for nearly 20 years."
BPI states it is a family-owned business that is the nation's largest producer of this type of meet. The business was founded 30 years ago and spent years developing the product they say ABC has impugned. They claim that their product benefits consumers and that it was approved in 1993 by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
BPI says five aspects of the ABC News reporting that was deleterious to their company. One was that they repeatedly described LFTB as pink slime so that the phrase became a synonym for LFTB.
Other claims being made are that ABC newscasters said LFTB is not beef, that the product was made with suspect ingredients, that it is not nutritious and that the company engaged in improper conduct to gain USDA approval.
ABC News responded to the lawsuit in its own news report.
"The lawsuit is without merit," said Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News. "We will contest it vigorously."