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ABC settled 'pink slime' lawsuit for $177 million, leaving the beef company feeling 'vindicated'

Kate Taylor
  • Ground beef

    Disney's earnings report revealed the company spent $US177 million to settle the "pink slime" lawsuit from a story ABC ran about beef in 2012.

  • Lawyers claim the phrase "pink slime" made Beef Products Inc. lose customers.
  • The company also laid off 700 workers after the report.

Disney paid Beef Products Inc. (BPI) $US177 million to settle the 'pink slime' lawsuit that claimed a story ABC ran in 2012 misled viewers and caused hundreds of layoffs.

On Wednesday, Walt Disney Co's quarterly earnings report revealed that the company spent $US177 million "in connection with the settlement of litigation" last quarter.

The case could have resulted in a verdict of as much as $US5.7 billion if BPI had won.

In late June, ABC announced it had reached an "amicable resolution" with BPI.

BPI's attorney, Dan Webb, said the settlement "vindicated" the company and its "lean finely textured beef," the product that ABC dubbed "pink slime" in its 2012 reports, according to Hytrek.

"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.

Lawyers made their opening arguments less than a month ago 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 its lean finely textured beef "pink slime." LFTB is a common ingredient in beef products and is safe to eat, which ABC noted in its reports. However, even with assurances that the ingredient, made from the trimmings of a cow and treated with ammonia to kill bacteria, wasn't dangerous, the phrase "pink slime" turned off customers, the lawsuit claimed.

"They ignored the proper name," 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 because of the "pink slime" backlash.

ABC's attorney argued that the "pink slime" reports brought to light that BPI and other ground-beef producers were using a beef product that most customers were unaware they were eating.

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