If the beef industry permanently loses the consumer demand, production and cost efficiencies associated with lean finely textured beef (LFTB) it won’t be due to a lack of effort from the folks at South Dakota-based Beef Products, Inc. (BPI).
You recall the misinformation about LFTB scattered by an ABC report earlier this year. That report ignited a firestorm of consumer backlash, ultimately forcing BPI—the leading provider of LFTB—to shutter three of its four facilities and putting 700 folks or so out of work.
On Thursday, BPI, BPI Technology, Inc., and Freezing Machines, Inc. (collectively, “BPI”) filed a suit against the American Broadcast Companies, Inc. (ABC), ABC News, Inc., three ABC News reporters, and others, “for knowingly and intentionally publishing false and disparaging statements regarding BPI and its product, lean finely textured beef (LFTB).” BPI alleges that ABC and others launched a concerted disinformation campaign against the companies, which had a significant adverse affect on BPI’s reputation, as well as a significant negative financial impact on the companies.
“For more than 30 years, our family has built and operated companies that are committed to providing consumers with wholesome, safe and nutritious lean beef. We’ve created thousands of good jobs for Americans and our lean finely textured beef has made the leaner ground beef that consumers desire more affordable,” says Eldon Roth, BPI founder and CEO. “The blatantly false and disparaging statements made about our lean beef have done more than hurt my family and our companies; they have jeopardized the future of our employees and their families.”
In their complaint, filed in Circuit Court in Union County, SD, BPI alleges that ABC and the individuals named in the suit knowingly made false, defamatory and disparaging statements regarding BPI and LFTB. According to BPI, these statements were made even after BPI and others sent ABC factual information about LFTB, including conclusions from USDA, FDA, food safety organizations and numerous beef industry experts, that LFTB is a safe, nutritious lean beef. As a result of the disinformation campaign, the BPI folks say their sales declined from approximately 5 million lbs. of LFTB per week to less than 2 million lbs.