“ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of ‘lean finely textured beef,’” said the network’s news division in a statement Wednesday. “Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product,” ABC News added of the June 5 starting trial. “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.”
Beef Products Inc. (BPI) originally sued ABC News, anchor Diane Sawyer, reporters Jim Avila and David Kerley and former U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein seeking $1.2 billion in damages after a series of 2012 broadcast reports on the company. It was Zirnstein who used the term “pink slime” to describe BP’s lean finely textured beef (LFTB) product in a 2002 email after touring a plant.
BPI ultimately had to shutter three plants and undergo layoffs at corporate headquarters.
The case was being closely watched; South Dakota’s strict food-libel laws could have tripled damages awarded in such cases.