In this file:


·         Scientists defend 'pink slime' label in ABC suit

·         Potentially damaging case against ABC News continues in South Dakota…

·         'Pink Slime' Coiner Tells Jury USDA Approval Was Wrong Call



Scientists defend 'pink slime' label in ABC suit


Jonathan Ellis, Argus Leader (SD)

June 15, 2017


ELK POINT – A former scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture said he considered himself an “internal whistleblower” when he raised concerns about a product that had been mixed in the nation’s ground beef supply for more than a decade.


Gerald Zirnstein, a microbiologist with the USDA, first used the term “pink slime” in an internal 2002 email to describe the Lean Finely Textured Beef product made by Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. Zirnstein and fellow USDA microbiologist Carl Custer testified in videotaped depositions Thursday in BPI’s $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against American Broadcasting Corp. for a series of news stories in 2012 that questioned the quality and safety of LFTB.


A third witness, former BPI Director of Quality Kit Foshee, also began his testimony Thursday. Foshee emerged as a public critic of BPI and LFTB after he left the company under acrimonious circumstances in 2002.


Zirnstein, Custer and Foshee were among the original parties sued by BPI in September 2012 after the company was forced to close three of four plants and lay off half its workforce. The three were eventually removed from the lawsuit as defendants, leaving ABC and correspondent Jim Avila as the remaining defendants.


Custer, who worked for USDA from 1972 to 2007, first became acquainted with what would be called LFTB in about 1989 when he was asked to review safety data of the new product. Initially, Custer wrote a report that said the product was safer than a similar product, but he testified that he changed his mind after two of his fellow USDA employees objected “vehemently” to his report.


Ultimately, an under secretary declared the product to be meat only because LFTB was pink in color, Custer said. He chalked up the decision as a political one that favored the meat industry at the expense of science.


Custer said he didn’t think about the product for the next decade until USDA embarked on a new study of products used in ground beef in about 2002. By then Zirnstein was also on staff and had made his objections known about LFTB to members of their agency.


A key issue for both scientists was the difference between beef and meat. Beef, they said, included any part of a bovine animal, but meat was more specific to the trimmings from an animal’s skeletal muscles.


“Technically, I would consider the hooves to be beef,” Zirnstein said


Custer repeatedly referred to LFTB as a “salvage product” that was low in quality.


“It is a low-temperature rendered byproduct,” he said. “It is not meat.”


Custer also repeatedly testified that LFTB had lower nutritional value than beef ground from muscle because it contained less protein and fewer minerals and vitamins. But he was also forced to admit that he was not a nutritionist or an expert in the area.


Both men argued in their testimony that LFTB should have been identified on labels because as an additive, it adulterated what consumers would regard as pure ground beef. Zirnstein said that LFTB was a lower-quality additive substituted for grounded beef in as much as 20 percent of some mixes.


“That, without labeling – so everybody knows that’s happening – that’s in violation of U.S. code,” he said.


Zirnstein denied that he launched a “crusade” against LFTB...





Potentially damaging case against ABC News continues in South Dakota; Rebel Wilson wins her case against Bauer Media


by D.B. Hebbard, Talking New Media

June 16, 2017


Travel day today, but later this morning there will be a great guest column from Ben Barokas, CEO and Co-Founder of Sourcepoint, regarding ad blocking and the opportunities that exist to expand their audiences.


Meanwhile, the ABC News-BPI defamation trial continues in South Dakota. This case has not gotten a lot of attention due to the continued issues with the president, and the much more high profile trial involving Bill Cosby.


The case, in brief, involves a report by ABC TV News Reporter Jim Avila about so-called “pink slime” — a controversial additive to ground beef that the plaintiff in the case, Beef Products Incorporated says is fine, and should be called “lean finely textured beef.”


This week, Avila (above) testified in the case, being heard in the Union County Court House in Elk Point, South Dakota, giving BPI quite a home court advantage.


If the case seems like a minor thing, just remember this, BPI is seeking $1.9 billion in damages.


Radio Iowa:


Jurors hear ABC reporter’s testimony in BPI defamation trial ...


Argus-Leader, Mark Walker:


ABC News reporter concluded ‘there was a story to do’ on beef product ...





'Pink Slime' Coiner Tells Jury USDA Approval Was Wrong Call


By Daniel Siegal, Law360

June 15, 2017


Los Angeles -- The former U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist who first called Beef Products Inc.’s trimmings product “pink slime” testified Thursday in the company's defamation trial against the ABC network that the “weird” looking product should not have been approved for use in ground beef.


During the second week of the trial in tiny Elk Point, South Dakota, BPI played for the jury a videotaped deposition of Gerald Zirnstein, one of two former USDA microbiologists cited as the key sources in ABC’s March 7, 2012, primetime news report about...


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