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TV network wants federal court to hear “pink slime” lawsuit

Reuters / ABC News wants a Federal Court to deal with a meat processor’s defamation lawsuit over reports about lean finely textured beef, a product that critics have labelled “pink slime.”

Lawyers for the network filed to transfer the case, brought last month by Beef Products Inc., the leading producer of the product, from of a state court in South Dakota to a Federal Court.

BPI is seeking $400 million in damages for lost profits it says was caused by ABC’s reports. BPI is also suing ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and two reporters who covered the story. Other defendants include Gerald Zirnstein, a former USDA microbiologist credited with coining the term “pink slime” in a 2002 email to colleagues later obtained by The New York Times.

In March and April, ABC aired a series of television reports on BPI’s product, raising questions about its quality and sparking a public relations furor that roiled social media, consumer advocates and the nation’s beef industry.

A number of fast-food restaurants and grocery retailers — including Walmart, Safeway and Supervalu — also stopped selling ground beef containing the product, even though the USDA and industry experts say it is safe to eat.

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