You can buy a lot of Pink Slime for $1.2 billion.

UPDATE:  Lawsuit also names:  DIANE SAWYER, JIM AVILA, DAVID KERLEY (reporters for ABC), GERALD ZIRNSTEIN, CARL CUSTER (former FSIS employees) and KIT FOSHEE (former BPI employee).  (Complaint PDF)

AP is reporting – hours before the BPI press conference was to start – that BPI will file a $1.2 billion defamation against ABC News, owned by The Walt Disney Co., for its coverage of a meat product that critics have dubbed “pink slime,” (a.k.a., Lean Finely Textured Beef -LFCB) alleging that the network misled consumers to believe the product is unhealthy and unsafe.

Someone should have told BPI’s lawyer it is not a great PR move to repeat the same charge that your client is now claiming harmed them in the first place:  Dan Webb, BPI’s Chicago-based attorney:

It caused consumers to believe that our lean beef is not beef at all – that it’s an unhealthy pink slime, unsafe for public consumption, and that somehow it got hidden in the meat,” Webb said before the company’s official announcement.

I tend to agree with Mickey on this one:

The lawsuit is without merit.”

Regarding BPI, this is how this whole thing happened in my view: The words “Pink Slime” came from an internal email between inspectors at FSIS commenting on the product. Another inspector called it “Soylent Pink” – which I thought was even better. These documents came out during litigation I had with Cargill in 2009, which the NYT used in part to get a Pulitzer. BPI was one of the suppliers of beef to Cargill in a 2007 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Which of the suppliers supplied the tainted meat was never shown. Then almost 3 years later the Daily writes a story that some chains had quietly stopped using LFTB, then a mom blogger puts up a petition asking that it be taken out of the school lunch program and ABC picks it up from there.

I just do not get the liability. I just do not see it.

On damages – IMHO, most have been self-inflicted by BPI. I was in the BPI plant in 2009 and talked to them about the coming NYT story and they should be transparent.

But, hey, who ever listens to