'Pink slime' lawsuit: BPI meat company sues ABC News for defamation


Earlier this year, Beef Products Inc. was in the headlines after critics worried about the way the meat is processed with a small amount of ammonia to kill bacteria. The filler has been used for years and meets federal food safety standards.

The lawsuit alleges that the network misled consumers to believe the product is unhealthy and unsafe. Company officials are blaming the closure of three plants and about 700 layoffs on what they view as a smear campaign. They said the company lost 80 percent of its business in 28 days.

The meat processor is seeking $1.2 billion in damages for roughly 200 "false and misleading and defamatory" statements about the product officially known as lean, finely textured beef, the company's attorney said.

Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News, said the "lawsuit is without merit" and that the network "will contest it vigorously."

After a flurry of news reports earlier this year, several national grocery chains publicly vowed to discontinue selling beef containing the product. In early April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved requests by BPI and others that they be allowed to label products containing the filler.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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