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Reuters reports that five food writers have been issued subpoenas by Beef Products Inc. which wants to see any and all communications they may have had with ABC News regarding so-called "pink slime." The story says that "Beef Products Inc. sued the network in 2012 seeking $1.2 billion in damages for the coverage of the meat product the industry calls 'lean, finely textured beef,' which critics dubbed 'pink slime.' BPI said ABC's coverage misled consumers into believing the product was unsafe and led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs."

Attorneys have responded to the suit by saying that ABC always said in its stories that pink slime had been declared safe to consume by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and, besides, since pink slime is actually pink and slimy, the suit is "overreaching."

The reporters facing subpoenas are New York Times reporter Michael Moss, food writer Michele Simon, and Dan Flynn, James Andrews, and Gretchen Goetz, who wrote for Food Safety News.

In addition to ABC, Reuters writes, people named in the lawsuit are "ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer, correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley; Gerald Zirnstein, the U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist who named the product pink slime; former federal food scientist Carl Custer; and Kit Foshee, a former BPI quality assurance manager who was interviewed by ABC."
KC's View:
First of all, I have to admit that I'm a little relieved here, because I actually wrote more than 40 stories during 2012 that used the term "pink slime." I can also say categorically that I had no correspondence whatsoever with ABC News or any other ABC-related organization during that time.

Still, I'm a little confused about what the suit is alleging. Is it that ABC News instigated and coordinated a multi-platform slander of BPI, influencing people with whom it did not work to report on the pink slime story and use the offending term (which, as a matter of public record, was coined by a fellow from the USDA)?

Because if that's true, the folks at BPI and their attorneys are delusional. (I wanted to put it a different way, but this is a family blog.) It sounds a lot more like they are engaging in some sort of intimidation game, and I don't see what it is going to get them except a lot more stories that are going to use the term "pink slime" and point out that the problem was never safety, but the fact it was not labeled, which some people found unacceptable. How keeping this story alive in the media by attacking the media makes sense is beyond me.