Pink slime is officially dead.
A few weeks ago, Beef Product Inc.’s (BPI) monumental $1.9 billion defamation suit against ABC for its reports on lean finely textured beef (LFTB) was finally heard in front of a jury panel in Union County, South Dakota, and on the morning of June 27, reports were released that BPI had settled with the news station and reporter Jim Avila.
While the terms of the settlement are confidential, it appears the final decision was vindication to BPI, which lost more than three-fourths of its company following ABC’s reporting, where they repeatedly referred to their signature product as “pink slime.”
As an industry, we can rejoice that the truth and integrity in reporting needs to prevail, and destroying businesses to drum up website traffic will not be tolerated.
Here is a roundup of what all sides of the case are saying about the settlement:
"We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila,” said Dean Webb, BPI’s attorney. “While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012. Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about LFTB: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious. This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business, while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family.”
From reporter Jim Avila:
"I wish they had had the chance to hear my side of the story,” said Avila, who first thanked the jury members for their service and said he realized this was a business decision on the part of the network. “It’s important to note we're not retracting anything. We're not apologizing for anything.”
From ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend:
"Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product," Townsend said. "Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case in 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.”
According to the Sioux City Journal, the settlement was a surprise to the courtroom and the jury members.
Circuit Court Judge Cheryle Gering started the 18th day of the trial with the statement, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have many things to tell you this morning. First of all, the case is settled. Neither the court, nor the jury, nor the public will be told the terms of the settlement today. The case is over.”
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.