Back in 2012, the nation collectively heaved over an investigative report suggesting that a lot of commercially-viable ground beef is made with “pink slime” — low-quality meat chunks mixed with ammonia to kill off bacteria, giving it a “pink intestines” look. ABC News was the first to report this unappetizing bit of news, and since then, various supermarkets, schools, and fast-food chains have vowed never to use the stuff again. Now, Beef Products Inc. is taking ABC News to court for defamation over its pink slime coverage, says Reuters.
The claims against ABC anchor Diane Sawyer have been dismissed in the preliminary trial, but ABC (a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company) and reporter Jim Avila are still facing Beef Products Inc. in a lawsuit filed in a South Dakota district court on grounds of defamation and libel. Avila and ABC, the lawsuit claims, portrayed the company’s beef product as “not safe, not nutritious, and not even meat.”
“Looking at the evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiffs, a jury could determine that there is clear and convincing evidence that ABC Broadcasting and Mr. Avila were reckless,” Judge Cheryle Gering said today, according to The Wall Street Journal. “They engaged in purposeful avoidance of the truth.”
Beef Products Inc. told media in a statement that ABC was "engaged in a disinformation campaign against a company that produces safe and nutritious beef, leading to billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of lost jobs." Fast food chains dropped their business with Beef Products Inc. after the initial report aired.