ABC World News: Jim Avila’s Exposé On Pink Slime. $1.2 Billion Lawsuit by BPI. The Whole Story.

ABC News is being sued by BPI, the makers of “Pink Slime.”  ABC’s News has been reporting on “Pink Slime”, an ammonia treated filler used to pump up our ground beef. It has been reported to be found in 70% of the ground beef sold in supermarkets. Consumers have no way of knowing what ground beef contains this filler because the USDA does not require grocers to disclose “Pink Slime” on the label. Though the USDA insists that “Pink Slime” is safe, since ABC ‘s Jim Avila broke the news on March 8, 2012, consumer public pressure and outrage has caused some changes to be made. What Stores have publicly announced they will no longer sell beef with Pink Slime? What changes have the USDA made?  What is the beef industry’s response?  

  • 9-13-2012 Jim Avila announced that BPI (Beef Products Inc) has filed a $1.2 billion lawsuit against ABC News, saying that their report on their “lean finely textured beef,”  aka “Pink Slime,” had mislead the public about its product and caused it great damage.  ABC submitted this statement, “The lawsuit is without merit and we will contest it vigorously.” Law suit? Does BPI want to have the right to underhandedly push a nutritionally inferior product off on the American public?
  • 3-26-2012 ABC’s Jim Avila reported Beef Products Inc, BPI, the company that makes “Pink Slime” suspended operations in 3 of its 4 plants because so many supermarkets have decided to stop selling beef containing the product. The company promised to pay its employees for 60 days but said they may have to permanently terminate those employees if sales don’t rebound.”
    “Thank You” Jim Avila for breaking that story and “Good Job” American Consumers for taking a stand against those Corporations who use their power and advantage to seek profits by any means and at the cost of the well being of unsuspecting Americans and their families. To those Employees at BPI who may lose their jobs..Encourage your company to use its talents and facility resources to produce a product that will be a healthful and useful enhancement in the lives of the American people.
  • 3-26-2012 ABC’s Jim Avila reported Beef Products Inc, BPI, the company that makes “Pink Slime” suspended operations in 3 of its 4 plants because so many supermarkets have decided to stop selling beef containing the product. The company promised to pay its employees for 60 days but said they may have to permanently terminate those employees if sales don’t rebound.”
    “Thank You” Jim Avila for breaking that story and “Good Job” American Consumers for taking a stand against those Corporations who use their power and advantage to seek profits by any means and at the cost of the well being of unsuspecting Americans and their families. To those Employees at BPI who may lose their jobs..Encourage your company to use its talents and facility resources to produce a product that will be a healthful and useful enhancement in the lives of the American people.
  • 3-23-2012 Stop and Shop has joined the list of supermarkets who will no longer be selling beef containing “Pink Slime.”
  • 3-22-2012 ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer reports that Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, will no longer be selling beef containing “Pink Slime.”
  • 3-21-2012 ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer reports that the third largest supermarket chain, SuperValu, as well as the Food Lion chain will no longer be selling beef containing “Pink Slime.”
  • 3-21-2012 – ABC’s Good Morning America reports that Safeway Stores, the 2nd largest supermarket chain, announced they will no longer sell beef containing “Pink Slime”.
  • 3-16-2012 – The USDA has made a policy change with regards to beef sold to schools. This fall, schools will now have the choice whether to buy the less expensive hamburger patties that contain “Pink Slime” or bulk ground beef that does not. The USDA says that grocers will still have to decide for themselves if they want to disclose their use of “Pink Slime” to their customers.
  • 3-8-2012 – Publix, Costco, H-E-B and Wholefoods assured ABC that they do not use “Pink Slime”

The Whole Story?

3-8- 2012 ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer reported on yet another consumer alert. As a result of a whistleblower coming forth, ABC’s senior correspondent Jim Avila did an investigative report regarding a filler called “Pink Slime!” that is being added to the ground beef we buy at the supermarket. Gerald Zirnstein, former USDA scientist is blowing the whistle on this “Pink Slime”, a term he coined when he tried to warn against it’s use. A product that was once used only for dog food and cooking oil. It is reported that today, 70% of the ground beef sold in the supermarkets and up to 25% of each hamburger patty contain “Pink Slime”!

As reported by ABC, in a memo Zirnstein and fellow USDA scientist, Carl Custer, warned against using what the industry calls “lean finely textured beef,” (now widely know as “Pink Slime”) but their government bosses overruled them.

“Lean Finely Textured Beef”?

Scientist, Carl Custer says he doesn’t consider it beef because it is a salvaged product, leftovers. It is excess fat that has been heated at low temperatures and then spun out.

Former BPI employee Kit Foshee, who was once number two there, says it looks something like Play-doh. He says it’s pink and frozen and not something that the typical person would consider meat. It is not as nutritious as meat because the protein comes from connective tissue, not muscle meat. It will fill you up but it’s not going to do you much good.

With all that said, Carl Custer told ABC that the under secretary at the USDA said “it’s pink, therefore it’s meat!”

Zirnstein says “It’s economic fraud. It’s not fresh ground beef. It’s a cheap substitute being added in.”

Jim Avila explains how it’s done. He says waste trimmings are gathered and simmered at low heat to make it easier to separate fat from muscle. Then it’s put in a centrifuge and spun to finish the separation. Then the mixture is sent through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. It’s finally pressed into bricks and then flash frozen for shipment to meatpackers and grocery stores where it’s added to most ground beef. Jim Avila says that it does not have to appear on the label because the USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled “Pink Slime” as meat!

Janet Riley from the American Meat Institute appeared on one ABC World News report. She adamantly, edging on sarcastically said “It’s beef! It’s on the label! It’s a beef product, it says beef! This is beef! So we are declaring it. It’s beef!”

Jim says ABC has learned the woman who made the decision to OK the mixture, is a former Undersecretary of Agriculture, Joann Smith. That decision led to hundreds of millions of dollars for Beef Products Inc., the makers of “Pink Slime”! When Smith stepped down from the USDA, Beef Products Inc.(BPI) principal supplier, appointed her to the board of directors, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years. Jim Avila added that Joann Smith did not return ABC’s calls for comment. BPI said it had nothing to do with her appointment. USDA says while it was illegal then, today, under current ethics rules, she could not have immediately joined that Board.

How do you know if your store uses “Pink Slime” in their ground Beef? ABC sent news producers to stores across America to the meat sections to see if it was in the ground beef they sold and most couldn’t tell for sure!

ABC even emailed the 10 top grocers in America. Publix, Costco, H-E-B and Wholefoods assured ABC that they did not use “Pink Slime”. Jim Avila says they have not yet heard from the others.

So what are our options? What can we do?

Jim Avila says if your meat is stamped “USDA Organic” it is pure meat and does not contain questionable filler. Everything else is suspect because “Pink Slime” does not have to appear on the label. At this point, the USDA is not giving any indication that it will force meatpackers to lift their veil of secrecy anytime soon.

Gerald Zirnstein grinds his own ground beef these days. He said he will not buy it!

We wonder if Joann Smith and the folks at BPI feed the stuff to their kids!

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