Beef Products Firm and ABC Agree to Settle ‘Pink Slime’ Case

Beef Products Inc. has settled its defamation and libel lawsuit against American Broadcasting Co. and its reporter Jim Avila, the meat processor said on Wednesday.

BPI had claimed ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., and Avila defamed the company by using the term “pink slime” and making errors and omissions in its 2012 reporting on what the company calls its “lean finely textured beef” product. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“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,” South Dakota-based BPI said in a statement.

“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.”

BPI sought up to $1.9 billion in damages, which could have been tripled to $5.7 billion under South Dakota’s Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act.

“Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product,” ABC said in a statement confirming the settlement.

“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.”

The trial began earlier this month in the tiny town of Elk Point, South Dakota and had been expected to last eight weeks.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)