The $5.7 billion 'pink slime' lawsuit against ABC was just settled, leaving beef company feeling 'vindicated'

Ground beefFlickr/USDAgovThe phrase ‘pink slime’ allegedly turned off customers.

ABC News and Beef Products Inc. reached a settlement in a $US5.7 billion lawsuit that claimed a story ABC ran in 2012 misled viewers and caused hundreds of layoffs.

On Wednesday, ABC announced it had reached an “amicable resolution” with BPI. The terms of the settlement are confidential, the Sioux City Journal reported.

BPI’s attorney, Dan Webb, said that the settlement “vindicates” the company and its production of “lean finely textured beef,” the product that ABC dubbed “pink slime” in its 2012 reports, Sioux City Journal’s Nick Hytrek reported.

“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,” ABC said in a statement.

The news comes less than a month after lawyers made their opening statements in a trial that could have resulted in a verdict of as much as $US5.7 billion if BPI had won.

In the suit, BPI alleged that ABC misled viewers by calling “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB) “pink slime.” LFTB is a commonly used ingredient in beef products and is safe to eat, which ABC noted in its report. However, even with assurances that the ingredient, which is made from the trimmings of a cow and treated with ammonia to kill bacteria, wasn’t dangerous, the phrase “pink slime” allegedly turned off customers.

“They ignored the proper name,” BPI’s lawyer, Dan Webb, said in his opening argument, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “When you have a major news organisation that is calling the product ‘slime,’ witnesses will say they can’t imagine anything worse. It connotes something disgusting, inedible.”

BPI said it had to close three plants and lay off 700 workers due to “pink slime” backlash.

Meanwhile, ABC’s attorney argued that the “pink slime” reports brought light to the fact that BPI and other ground beef producers had been using an mostly-unknown beef product that most shoppers and customers were unaware they were eating.

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