Meat processor sues over ABC 'pink slime' reports (VIDEO)


SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 24: A stack of ground beef patties moves on a conveyor belt at a meat packing and distribution facility June 24, 2008 in San Francisco, California.


Justin Sullivan

A South Dakota-based meat processor is suing ABC News over its reports on a meat product that critics dub "pink slime."

Beef Products Inc. accuses the network of disseminating 200 "false and misleading and defamatory statements" about its beef product, company attorney Dan Webb told The Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: Pink slime producer forced to shut down three factories

The company is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.

Also named in the lawsuit are ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and the Departure of Agriculture microbiologist who coined the term "pink slime."

Known in the industry as lean, finely textured beef, "pink slime" is highly processed and treated with ammonia to kill bacteria -- much like other meats, but ABC's first report on the product March 7 ignited a firestorm.

More from GlobalPost: Pink slime: It's what's for lunch

Consumers boycotted retailers who carried beef containing "pink slime," eventually succeeding in getting many to drop it.

The resulting backlash cut production at Beef Products Inc. by more than half. The company closed three out of its four plants and laid off more than 700 employees, Reuters reported.

"The lawsuit is without merit," Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, said in a statement. "We will contest it vigorously."