The trial, in its third week, is focused on ABC News reports that referred to BPI’s lean finely textured beef (LFTB) as “pink slime.” Kevin Butler, the Vice President of Ground Beef Sales for American Foods Group, told a BPI attorney that his company lost millions of dollars in business in the months after the news reports aired.
“The number we came through with…could be as high as 20-plus million dollars,” Butler said. American Foods Group sold ground beef containing LFTB to several major grocery chains, such as Kroger’s and Walmart. Those chains started dropping the product after the ABC News reports aired. Butler said he felt ABC “totally misrepresented” the LFTB product.
“The U.S.D.A. is setting standards for safe, wholesome foods and they have deemed the BPI product to be safe and wholesome…then it should be as such,” Butler said. Attorneys for ABC have defended the news reports, which aired in 2012, saying BPI expressed concern in 2011 about the term “pink slime” being used by a popular food show.
BPI closed three of its Midwest plants that produced LFTB, including one in Waterloo, following the ABC reports. The trial is taking place in Union County, South Dakota.
(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)