News Now Trending

Disney and ABC News Lose Over $175 Million For Their Report On Pink Slime

Photo: BeefProductsInc on Flickr.

In a huge loss for investigative journalism, Disney-owned ABC News has come to terms on a settlement with Beef Products International (BPI) over their pink slime news reports back in 2012.

BPI had initially sued ABC News over the reports in a defamation lawsuit asking for $1.9 billion for damages the business incurred as a result of ABC’s reports. The lawsuit was actually settled back in June, but we didn’t know what the total amount of damages were until Disney’s earnings were released earlier this week. The financial statements reveal that at least $177 million was paid to Beef Products International as part of the lawsuit settlement, but CNN has reports that that number could actually be a lot higher. It’s still significantly lower than the initial $1.9 billion BPI had asked for when they filed the suit.

Since the settlement, ABC has not publicly apologized for their reports on pink slime, which revealed that fast food giants and other corporations used the cheap beef product as a way to increase nutrition and lower cost in their products. It’s believed that the terms of the settlement didn’t include a forced apology as a result, nor did they include a required redaction, as ABC’s reports about the pink slime are still available online.

While it’s great that ABC won’t have to take down any of its reporting on the subject, the settlement strikes a blow into investigative journalism, sending a message that if news corporations go out and increase the transparency of our food system, it could end up costing them big time. In this day and age, where thorough and concise reporting is how many facts of our industries and society are uncovered, this sets a dangerous precedent of persecuting those who attempt to reveal the truth.

News Now Trending Opinion Technology

Here’s Why ABC News Should Win The Massive Controversial ‘Pink Slime’ Lawsuit

Photo by BeefProductsInc on Flickr.

For the next two months, the food world’s attention is going to primarily be focused on the trial involving a major lawsuit between ABC News and Beef Products Inc. In the suit, Beef Products is looking for at least $1.9 billion in defamatory damages based on a report and investigation that ABC News conducted back in 2012 on the infamous beef product known as “pink slime.”

ABC looked into exactly how “pink slime” is made and it’s widespread usage in ground beef. For those of you that don’t know, “pink slime” is a beef byproduct legally known as “lean finely textured beef” made by separating meat from fat in the trimmings (or leftover cut-off parts) of beef. The meat is then treated with food-grade, safe levels of ammonia to prevent microbial contamination before being packaged, frozen, and distributed to grocery stores and vendors to mix into ground beef. The result is a safe and low-cost lean beef product that was used to make ground beef products healthier and more affordable.

ABC then published a report in which a USDA whistleblower called “pink slime” an “economic fraud” and scientists claimed that it should not be labeled as “real beef.” Beef Products Inc. compared those claims to a “disinformation campaign” and a “reckless disregard” for the truth in their lawsuit. Beef Products feels that ABC caused them to suffer “significant financial harm” as a result of their “wrongful conduct” regarding their reporting of “pink slime,” which is why they went after ABC with this major lawsuit.

While ABC’s reports and investigations did heavily ruin the reputation of “pink slime,” they should not be held at fault for the monetary damages lost. ABC didn’t coin the ugly and damaging term “pink slime.” That name was conceived by the USDA whistleblower that ABC interviewed. Additionally, both the New York Times and Jamie Oliver reported on “pink slime” long before ABC did. Their publications influenced major companies like Burger King and Taco Bell to remove “pink slime” from their food by the time ABC came out with their report, so the losses that Beef Products Inc. incurred from the entire scandal were already starting to add up.

ABC was continuing to report on an already buzzing and controversial topic, and as a result went deeper into its investigations than those who initially reported on “pink slime” did. That should not be grounds for defamation since the loss of reputation had already begun and would have continued even if ABC hadn’t published its findings.

Moreover, if ABC were to lose this lawsuit, it would be a devastating blow to investigative journalism, especially when it comes to food. It’s been the role of journalists and writers to help increase transparency in our food system, like what Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle unveiled about the horrors of meatpacking in the 1900s or how Rachel Carson informed the world about the pesticide DDT in Silent Spring.

ABC’s reports were a continuation of this duty, and to silence them through a hefty monetary punishment would scare other food writers and journalists into not looking deeper into food out of fear they could be persecuted for “defaming” a company.

We’ll be monitoring the massive trial between Beef Products Inc. and ABC News to see how it progresses, and hope that ABC scores a big win for food journalism when the jury reaches its verdict.

Fast Food

First Batch of McDonald’s ‘Mythbuster’ Questions Answered [Video]

mcd mythbusters

So, McDonald’s brought aboard Grant Imahara of former Mythbusters lore to prove that their food is not sketchy. Imahara is going around McDonald’s facilities, asking questions and having some awkward back-and-forth with McDonald’s workers.

Maybe it’s just me, but nobody looks comfortable in these videos. They seem to be answering the questions and showing their food is clean and pure, but it’s still McDonald’s. Imahara didn’t even look like he enjoyed his Big Mac, even though he was “Eager to see some meat.” If you can get past that weird vibe I got, maybe you’ll trust them.

Here is their attempt so far. Three videos “answering” commonly asked questions.


Is McDonald’s beef real?


Why are McDonald’s burger patties frozen?


Why is a McDonald’s burger so cheap?

Fast Food

McDonald’s Hires a Mythbuster to Prove They’re Not as Bad as You Think

mcd myth buster

There’s something about eating at McDonald’s that makes me feel like I could die at any point when biting into a Quarter Pounder. McDonald’s is starting to catch on that a lot of people feel the same way, and they’re going to try and change that.

According to Burger Business, Mickey D’s has hired a professional debunker, Mythbusters co-host Grant Imahara to answer customer questions. They want to show that any skepticism, any doubt, any questions you have about McDonald’s can be answered and give you peace of mind about the quality of what you’re eating there.

Sure, stories of customers finding worms in their iced tea, or that the french fries are flammable, or that cheeseburgers turn into goop in your stomach haven’t helped their cause, but they seem confident in answering all these questions.

Imahara will take part in the “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign, and will be given access to customers via social media. As customers ask questions on Twitter and Facebook, Imahara will try to figure out the answers, including to such as, “Is there pink slime in any of the food?” and “Is your food even real?”

My first question would be, “Why do they always put onions on my burger when I clearly ask for no onions?”


“Eat Meat and You Will Die,” Says an Infographic

With all this jabber about the usage of “pink slime” in our meat supply and recent studies (arguably not very new) that point to the destructiveness of consuming red meat, it’s only fitting someone would come along and create a thoroughly simple infographic entitled “Eat Meat & Die.

That is what infographics are good at. Take a hot button issue, aggregate a few sources, make it clean, catchy, buzzworthy and give publishers and social media soldiers a few key themes to latch onto. It makes people feel informed, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, these graphics are usually a pretty good segue into active conversation — ideally, a segue into active research.

As part of a perpetually infographic-consuming web audience, we should be wary of the type of visuals we get bombarded with on a daily basis. I’m definitely not one to talk, when I see a colorful graphic that seems to aggregate and subsequently analyze information for me, I immediately consider myself an expert on whatever topic the infographic was covering.

Cupcake infographic? Yes, I am now the only person in my friend group that knows that Cupcakes are served at 13% of Weddings. Beer isn’t bad, I read in a beer infographic that Egyptian children were baptized with beer. Coffee and tea are good for you? Yes, this infographic said so!

So what does all this cynicism have to do with this Eat Meat & Die infographic? The graphic claims that substituting a daily serving of red meat with Chicken or Whole Grains will reduce risk of early death by 14%. If you substitute a daily serving of red meat with a serving of nuts reduces the risk of early death by 19%. Cool jazz, eat more greens, less bacon, am I right?

The graphic does a splendid job summarizing web links that coin vegetables/nuts/white meat as healthy alternatives to red meat. Consumers of red meat probably won’t argue against this research, but they should play devil’s advocate with the entire section highlighting the main causes of death in the U.S., Latin America and Australia. According to the chart, the leading cause of death in these three countries is heart disease.

Eat Meat & Die? I’m no dietician, but heart disease is a complicated issue. The graphic makes no note of all the people who suffer from heart disease who have supplemented their diets with other vices, such as smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, cocaine binges, and the amount of additional stress that faces us every morning on our commute to work.

In essence, if you never consume an ounce of meat in your life, you are still susceptible to death. So with this in mind, yes, if you eat meat, you will die. You will also die if you eat a locally-sourced grain of rice. Trust me, whether it’s tomorrow, or in 2097, you will die one day.

Facetiousness aside, infographics are meant to be buzzworthy and high-concept, and proper awareness of health trends and proper eating habits are always important.

You be the judge, does this infographic do anything for you?



Don’t Call it a Comeback — Pink Slime Beef Returns

After heavy negative publicity hit, McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants recently made a business decision and said that pink slime will no longer be the foundation of their high quality foods. So what to do with all the leftover Jiggly Puff colored meat? Give it to the kids, of course.

The U.S. Department of agriculture announced that it will be buying 7 million pounds of the controversial ammonia-treated meat and will be distributing it to the country’s school lunch program.

Kids will eat anything, right? I mean we unknowingly ate it for a while.

This announcement was made only a couple weeks after the government announced its plan to provide healthier lunch choices at schools, with more vegetables, fruits and whole grain food on the menu.

The USDA approves of it and said that it meets the standards set for food safety. So, although questionable, the government said it’s good and safe to eat.

As the Huffington Post gingerly put it, the meat is a ground-up combination of beef scraps and cow connective tissues that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.

The ammonium hydroxide that is added to the beef is what has caused the most concern nationally because many believe it can be harmful to eat. A red flag should be that it is an ingredient in household cleaners and fertilizers.

“Lean beef trimmings” is the term for the yummy, gooey meat. That’s like calling cocaine a “Powdery body stimulant.” Not to say it is as bad as cocaine, but let’s be real, that’s not just beef trimmings, it’s pink slime.

So, the meat could be a risk according to some microbiologists, but as it stands, it’s safe enough to soon be served by a lunch lady near you.

[Thx Huff Post]