Tempers flared at the Beef Products Incorporated news conference Thursday over questions asked by a network television reporter following a tour by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and the governors of two other states.
Branstad led the tour of the South Sioux City plant to show support for the finely textured beef product that detractors have labeled “pink slime.” ABC’s Jim Avila drew an angry response from Branstad when he asked the governor if $150,000 in campaign contributions from BPI owners Eldon and Regina Roth had anything to do with his support of the company.
Branstad had this response: Audio Branstad :23
Avila got another angry response when he asked food safety advocate Nancy Donley why she had removed information from her website that showed BPI had donated $250,000 to her organization. Donley began advocating for food safety after he son died from e-coli poisoning, and gave this emotional response: Audio Donley :34
Donley says she removed the names of donors because they asked to remain anonymous. Texas Governor Rick Perry was on the tour and he challenged Avila on his responsibility as a journalist to protect the public. Avila said he didn’t want to respond to Perry’s questions, which brought this comment from Perry: audio Perry :22
BPI closed it’s Amarillo, Texas plant and plants in Waterlo, Iowa and Kansas in the wake of the controversy. Some called for Avila to be removed from the news conference, but Donley said he had the right to be there for the rest of the questions.
By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City