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ABC, BPI Settle Pink Slime Lawsuit

Dang! Instead of fighting for our right to refer to a pink, slimy foodish product as what it literally is, ABC has settled with Beef Products, Inc. No one has disclosed the terms of the settlement that brought an end to BPI’s $1.9-billion defamation lawsuit, but apparently the terms let each corporate combatant continue to claim it was right and the other side was wrong:

In a statement Wednesday morning, ABC said: “ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of ‘lean finely textured beef.’ Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. 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.”

“While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012,” BPI said in its own statement [Jeremy Barr, “ABC News Reaches Settlement in ‘Pink Slime’ Case,” Hollywood Reporter, 2017.06.28].

I think the corporate lawyers just got sick of working from trailers on Main Street in quiet Elk Point. Too bad—another few weeks of courtroom wrangling would have meant even more sales for Los Amigos and Ollie’s.


  1. The lowly independent 2017-06-28 11:17

    Droopy says “Eat lamb”!

  2. Porter Lansing 2017-06-28 14:07


  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-28 14:15

    The judge said that under SD law, the terms of the settlement will be kept secret. That’s problematic. If calling BPI’s product “pink slime” can incur any kind of penalty, we should know what penalty if any ABC agreed to pay so that we can all make rational decisions about the cost of making such a factual statement. Secret settlements keep citizens from understanding the consequences of their actions.

  4. Porter Lansing 2017-06-28 15:18

    (E.G.) Doesn’t it seem right that SoDak needs an Ag-Gag law? So many Republican legislators go to Pierre just to get drunk and laid and have no real agenda, that forwarding such a law seems a given. Without protection for the fine products of the state this could happen …..
    ~ As a professional chef it’s legally assumed that I have influence over peoples food choices. Should I say, “Kansas pheasants taste better than Dakota pheasants because a diet of millet produces a more tender product than a diet of GMO corn.” there’s no way to stop me from that assertion, be it right or wrong. With an Ag-Gag law (like over a dozen states have) any Jack-a-lope in power could sue the toque right off my sorry noggin and protect the rightful place of South Dakota as King of Pheasant Country.

  5. Sam2 2017-06-28 16:03

    ABC must have started to believe they were going to lose and offered a quick settlement. No other reason to settle

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-28 16:38

    …unless, of course, ABC saw a chance to cut its lawyer bills by more than what they offered to pay BPI to drop the issue. Prosecution went first; defense hadn’t fired away yet; so isn’t it possible that BPI saw its case wasn’t slam-dunking?

  7. Porter Lansing 2017-06-28 16:54

    Cory. Does the uncertainty of the decision compel you to use “finely textured” vs “slime”? You are a journalist (per your admission) and you’re certainly influential. A lawsuit from deep pockets BPI isn’t worth it, is it? That may be why they settled. Uncertainty can silence the sliming as much as a win. Silence is their goal.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-28 17:37

    Porter, I agree, uncertainty has a chilling effect.

    But from the information I’ve seen, LFTB is pink, and it is slime. The term “pink slime” appears to be literal and factual and should be unactionable. Lying to damage a person’s reputation should be actionable; saying what a thing is should not.

  9. Porter Lansing 2017-06-28 18:00

    ‘Ya think? Before a jury, if I was called as an expert witness, I’d say slime is defamatory. If you were sued however, the questions would be …
    1. What are BPI’s damages?
    2. What influence does a honyocker who thinks frozen pizza is haute cuisine, have over anyone’s food choices? (other than recommending the mashed potatoes at Pizza Ranch) 🙊 😀

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-28 18:46

    “Slime” derogatory? Horsehockey. It’s now a viable marketing word.

    Besides, fact is fact. Slime is a legitimate noun. And yes, beyond grammar and dictionaries, I would argue the real harm as well as intent to harm. BPI is entitled to call its product pretty much whatever it wants, within the confines of fact. I have the same entitlement, within the same confines. In that regard, “lean finely textured beef” and “pink slime” can coexist.

  11. Adam 2017-06-28 20:00

    This whole lawsuit is nothing but an arguement over whether a low quality meat product can be defined as a “filler” within another higher quality meat product.

    There are so many food additives – from food grade saw dust (cellulose) to ground up cartalege and chemical flavors, colors, preservatives, tenderizers etc. – legally determining what a “filler” is depends on every individual specific use of a product (pink slime in this case).

    If you were to put any pink slime into my hamburger patty, then I would you/it cheap, tasteless, and health-unconscious. If you just want to feed PS to cats/dogs, sure, let’s keep on doing that. It’s been considered only good enough for dog/cat food for decades, and I think back then we/they were right about that.

  12. Porter Lansing 2017-06-28 20:18

    What makes PS a different filler is that it’s washed in ammonia and smells like mom’s kitchen on a Saturday morning cleaning day.

  13. Don Coyote 2017-06-28 23:24

    Good for BPI. This “story” was nothing but a smear story by ABC and the Queen of Fluff Diane Sawyer. We eat “textured” meat all the time. Faux crab? I’ll eat that stuff all day long. It makes great crab salad. The Japanese call it surimi and they eat it by the tons and they invented the process similar to what BPI uses.

    Ammonia? OMG! Ammonia compounds occur naturally in most foods and are used every day in baked goods, cheese and chocolate. Slimy? OMG! Crazy Norwegians eat one of the slimiest foods in the world … lutefisk. And that stuff is cured in lye. Eat a raw oyster for the ultimate in slime. Stop putting okra in your gumbo if you are so offended. Put on your big boy/girl pants/panties you wusses!

  14. Don Coyote 2017-06-28 23:32

    @Porter: It’s not “washed” in ammonia. It’s sprayed with a cloud of ammonium hydroxide gas to remove pathogens. Crikers, a lot of cheese has ammonium hydroxide added to stimulate cultures/curds.

  15. Porter Lansing 2017-06-28 23:36

    Why do I believe that if this was a liberal left-wing California organic produce company suing Fox News for saying that their radishes were “mushy” that Don would have the exact opposite opinion than a right wing Red State beef packer suing a mainstream media station? Oh, I don’t know. Being around him for a few years, I suppose. lol

  16. Don Coyote 2017-06-28 23:52

    @Porter: Speaking of radishes. The reason radishes taste the way they do is because they evolved defenses to make themselves taste crappy to animals. Chefs however make them into cute food (roses) to confuse humans into thinking they taste good. LOL! ;-)

  17. Clyde 2017-06-29 00:25

    The fact is that LFTB is a healthy food product that was defamed by being referred to over 300 times by a low brow media company that isn’t interested in providing the public with facts but only sensationalism is what this suit was all about.

    I have friends in the business of providing machinery to the packing industry and this process is only a way of extracting more beef from the trimmings.

    Referring to anything as slime tends to bring a negative vision and as a life long beef producer there is no doubt in my mind that not just BPI but the entire beef industry was affected by these stories. I am certain that the housewife that normally went to the store and bought ground beef most likely decided to by chicken or pork after hearing ABC using the reference of “pink slime”.

    I think everyone ought to take a good look at what passes as news and journalism now days. The tiny few monster media company’s aren’t interested in doing any investigative or informative journalism any more. They would rather give you glitz and filler that doesn’t cost them anything. That is exactly what ABC did with these stories.

    Finally I’m against gag laws but for truthful informative journalism. Having to pay out huge legal settlements should make these big media company’s think twice next time. And that is a GOOD thing.

  18. Donald Pay 2017-06-29 06:38

    As Cory stated, slime is “in.” The problem was not the words “pink slime.” The problem is industry sticking slime, ammonia or any filler in without disclosure on the package. If ammonia is in the meat, I need to know. The story ABC presented was a public service. Thanks to ABC.

  19. mike from iowa 2017-06-29 07:07

    Clyde and Coyote- what’s yer problem with the public demanding to know what s#it is added to their food?

    If this crap was so harmless, why wasn’t BPI upfront and open about it? Could it be they were afraid the public would react to it the way they did react to it?

    Be interesting to discover just what korporate amerika gets for their large donations to politicians. That is in the public interest as well.

  20. Porter Lansing 2017-06-29 07:53

    Right on, MFI. Liberals don’t give a darn how much ground up meat scraps sprayed with ammonia Republicans eat or whether they enjoy it or not. However, we demand to know what’s in OUR food. And we demand to know where it comes from. And we demand that the information is verified by independent inspectors.
    HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY … remember, we beat the British as a group not as individual “patriots” claiming to be above the needs of others.

  21. Clyde 2017-06-29 09:08

    Well, it looks like Coyote and I agree for a change but I’d like to ask those who are so indignant over whats in our food why you aren’t screaming bloody murder over COOL. Country Of Origin food labeling for those who have forgotten. According to the “World” court we are not supposed to know where the staff of life comes from. Even our monkey ancestors knew where their food came from when they climbed down out of the trees. From what little info is out there very little of this imported food is inspected and much of it is raised under very questionable conditions. Do you like scrimp? Better inform yourself on how farm raised scrimp from southeast Asia are raised.

    Personally, as a beef producer I would just as soon see the trimmings going for something other than human consumption. That would help to limit the supply and raise the price of my animals. Why are you so indignant over Ammonia. Really should study up on chemistry. It’s harmless.

    As I said, however, I have no doubt that this “pink slime” hurt the consumption of beef for some time. It was irresponsible journalism. We used to have slander and liable laws in this country but apparently the supreme court has found that they aren’t necessary. Now you can say or do anything.

    Where was ABC on “WMD’s”. Where are they now on Russia or the so called “civil” war in Syria. These big media company’s that we now have are only propagandist for the dark government we live under. I was in the final jury selection for this case and willing to hide my bias till I found out the case was going to take all summer….I have more important things to do.

  22. Greg 2017-06-29 09:36

    If BP I wants to use chemical induced pink crap that’s fine with me as long as it is labeled. I will buy my ground beef from a supplier that doesn’t use. In my opinion this process devalues the product and beef producers and consumers should boycott any supplier that uses this process. Why do we let the processors take a perfectly good product and ruin it just so they make millions

  23. Porter Lansing 2017-06-29 09:45

    You gotta lotta baggage, Clyde. Can’t use that word “indignant” enough, huh? You just make sure you remove your beeves from the hormones at the required time before you sell ’em, huh. We know it’s pretty hard to get caught and if you do, the penalty’s pretty minimal. We on the consuming side will take care of the rest.

  24. Clyde 2017-06-29 10:22

    Porter, my son and I are thinking of going entirely “organic”.

    This country could be the way it used to be, all organic, except the people that have had their wealth taken away from them wouldn’t be able to afford to eat. The only difference between how food is raised today and the way it used to be raised is that we have substituted hormones and chemicals for labor. In other words in agriculture as in every other endeavor the return to people has been driven down.

    BTW, we DO remove the cattle from additives for the very short time that the government requires and we have never fed antibiotics for anything other than a short term curative. Much of what you are consuming is fed antibiotics during the entire feeding period to boost gains. I believe there are tests that can be performed on the beef that would confirm what the animal had in it at the time of slaughter but, that might cost a little money. Just like the fact that the state of South Dakota doesn’t have near enough law enforcement anymore. It might cost money. Happens in government and business. If a corner can be cut, it is.


  25. mike from iowa 2017-06-29 11:29

    . Why are you so indignant over Ammonia. Really should study up on chemistry. It’s harmless.

    at is ammonia?

    Ammonia (NH3) is one of the most commonly produced industrial chemicals in the United States. It is used in industry and commerce, and also exists naturally in humans and in the environment. Ammonia is essential for many biological processes and serves as a precursor for amino acid and nucleotide synthesis. In the environment, ammonia is part of the nitrogen cycle and is produced in soil from bacterial processes. Ammonia is also produced naturally from decomposition of organic matter, including plants, animals and animal wastes.

    Some chemical/physical properties of ammonia are:

    At room temperature, ammonia is a colorless, highly irritating gas with a pungent, suffocating odor.
    In pure form, it is known as anhydrous ammonia and is hygroscopic (readily absorbs moisture).
    Ammonia has alkaline properties and is corrosive.
    Ammonia gas dissolves easily in water to form ammonium hydroxide, a caustic solution and weak base.
    Ammonia gas is easily compressed and forms a clear liquid under pressure.
    Ammonia is usually shipped as a compressed liquid in steel containers.
    Ammonia is not highly flammable, but containers of ammonia may explode when exposed to high heat.

    I carted NH3 nurse tanks around for the Co-op Elevator. Each tank had a couple plastic bottles for fresh water to wash eyes and skin, plus a first aid kit which was supposed to have some quarters taped inside to call 9-11 because this stuff was so harmless.

    No, I never encountered a pay phone to or from farmer’s fields.

  26. Adam 2017-06-29 11:43

    Clyde and Don seem to want meat packers to be allowed to hide Pink Slime in as much food as possible, so that we unknowingly shove it down our own maws.

    I think it’s offensive. So, enjoy your imitation meats but don’t be thinking Liberals are unreasonable for preferring things besides Nutraloaf products to get our calories.

    Maybe that’s why conservatives think like crap – because they are what they eat.

  27. clyde 2017-06-29 13:07

    MFI, read the first part of your description of ammonia….then please re read it. I have applied hundreds of tons of anhydrous ammonia and am fully aware of its danger’s. Anhydrous ammonia isn’t what we are talking about here.

    Adam, I AM a liberal. A hard core Bernie supporter but like most voters, I believe, have opinions on both sides. I have attended functions where the Roth’s were present and they are not my kind of people but the establishment media we have in this country today is IMO the most dangerous threat to our democracy. You can’t have a democracy without a educated and INFORMED electorate. Not a propaganda machine.

  28. mike from iowa 2017-06-29 13:51

    Clyde- your comment was about ammonia- period. No form of ammonia is 100% safe to 100% of the population. Not meant to be an argument, just setting the record straight.

    The challenge howl to coyote went unanswered. Maybe he and the Missus are teaching the pack youngsters to catch mice. :)

  29. Donald Pay 2017-06-29 16:31

    This tale is about the problem with steamed buns in Beijing about 10 years ago. As you might remember the Olympics coming up in 2008, and there was some wise thinking that maybe the city ought to clean up some things, like air pollution some bad food practices.

    My daughter was working at the USDA trade office and was able to help the Chinese find a good North Dakota source for organic wheat, so the foreigners and athletes would have healthy non-GMO breaded products. And, gradually, the Chinese middle class is switching to better food choices themselves, so trade in these higher quality agricultural products is taking off, but I’m off track a bit.

    The Chinese system can do quite a lot, pretty fast when it puts the full weight of the government behind it, but much of the food industry is privatized and not very well regulated. So, the wheat was top notch, but what about the filling.

    The dumpling-like morsels are filled, usually, with tasty food, usually pork and veggies, and are called bao or baozi in Chinese. Something not so good was rumored to be going on with the filling.

    China has an unfree press, but Chinese reporters like to uncover these sorts of stories. Several reporters looked into some rumors about what was going into those bao. It turned out it was 60 percent recycled cardboard and 40 percent “fatty meat,” which may be the Chinese term for the cuttings from which pink slime is derived. It’s hard to know which is worse for the human body: dirty cardboard or fatty meat. When the story ran, it was instant closure for that company.

    My daughter told me the best way to have a healthy food supply in many countries is to have a free press that aggressively pursues stories like this. Everyone eats, so everyone is interested in these stories.

    ABC deserves our thanks for putting these guys out of business.

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-29 16:44

    Clyde, I don’t know what strawman you were hoping to conjure up, but I’ve hollered more about COOL than Kristi Noem. I’d like all facts to be available about our food, and I don’t object to knowing what country my hamburger comes from or what percent of it is actually pink slime that’s been washed/gassed/purified with ammonia.

  31. Clyde 2017-06-29 20:29

    Cory, it’s good that you and a few others haven’t forgotten about COOL. As you can tell I’m still fuming over it and most of the “free” trade deals we have made. Good for the Waltons….not so good for America.

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-29 21:25

    You do well to fume over COOL. You have every right to be able to put a “Made in the USA” label on your product or market your product in whatever honest way fits your business plan and values.

    Similarly, all citizens have a right to say what they wish in public about your product and any other product on the market and not face restrictions or punishment from corporate overlords… as long as their speech is honest.

  33. Don Coyote 2017-06-30 14:17

    @cah: “You have every right to be able to put a “Made in the USA” label on your product or market your product in whatever honest way fits your business plan and values.”

    Not true. Regulation of products to use “Made in USA” labeling are regulated by the FTC just as food labeled as “Organic” have to meet standards as put forth by the USDA. While mandatory COOL has been ended, what is there stopping the beef industry from pushing for a voluntary version not unlike Canada uses?

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-30 17:23

    I contend regulations restricting citizens’ ability to make true statements should be repealed.

  35. Clyde 2017-07-02 10:07

    On what Coyote brought up….regardless of how the “World Court” is going to try to control us and keep us broke, there is hope. I don’t believe anyone can stop a state or, for that matter, an individual farmer, from labeling his product. If the big import interests get to intrusive locally grown produce will be sold out of the back of pickup’s.

  36. Don Coyote 2017-07-04 20:54

    WTO Clyde, WTO. World Trade Organization. We entered into that trade agreement (treaty) so now it’s the law of the land. We can always withdraw if that’s what you are advocating.

    And yes, there is nothing preventing a “voluntary” country of origin labeling. Canada has one. It was the “mandatory” COOL that got our gonads in the grinder. Jeebus.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 06:51

    I wonder if COOL has even crossed Trump’s mind, if he’d even know what it stands for in ag policy. If someone brought COOL to Trump’s attention, how would he respond? Would have an “America First!” reaction and pull us out of the WTO?

  38. Darin Larson 2017-08-09 18:31

    Cory, you wondered in your comments above about what the settlement amount was so that rational decisions could be made by our citizens. According to this article, the settlement exceeded $177 million. Speculation was that ABC had some insurance pay part of the settlement cost.

    Apparently, “slime” is viewed as a derogatory term in common parlance.

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