Pink Slime Producer Sues ABC For $1.2 BILLION

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A major beef processing company is suing ABC News for $1.2 billion over its coverage of "pink slime", which the company says ABC portrayed as unhealthy and unsafe.

Beef Products Inc. says ABC made 200 "false and misleading and defamatory" statements about the product, which the producer says is just lean, finely textured beef.

Here's one component of ABC News' pink slime expose:

The network quotes a former USDA scientist saying 70 percent of ground beef contains "trimmings that were once used only in dog food and cooking oil, now sprayed with ammonia to make them safe and then added to most beef as a cheaper filler."

An attorney for BPI said the company filed because "[ABC reports] caused consumers to believe that our lean beef is not beef at all, that it's an unhealthy pink slime, unsafe for public consumption, and somehow it got hidden in the meat."

The company claims the product, abbreviated as LFTB, is heated and treated to kill bacteria, and that it's actually healthier for you, by virtue of being leaner.

As for where the $1.2 billion figure came from, BPI says the reports have hurt sales so much that three out of its four plants have closed and 650 jobs have been lost.

One of the biggest purchasers of U.S. beef, McDonalds cut pink slime from its burgers early this year. TV chef Jamie Oliver has also been a public, vocal opponent.

ABC says the lawsuit is baseless and will be contested.

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