06 June 2017

'Pink slime'

A meat processing company, Beef Products, is suing ABC News for defamation and seeking $5.7 billion in damages. The suit was filed in 2012, and the trial began yesterday. Beef Products alleges that ABC News "engaged in a month-long vicious, concerted disinformation campaign" with its investigation into lean, finely textured beef (LFTB), which is added to some processed meat.

ABC World News Tonight first reported on LFTB on 7th March 2012, describing it as "'pink slime', beef trimmings that were once used only in dog food and cooking oil, now sprayed with ammonia to make them safe to eat and then added to most ground beef as a cheaper filling." (There is no neutral term to describe the product: LFTB is euphemistic, and 'pink slime' is dysphemistic.)

ABC News did not coin the term 'pink slime', though its series of World News Tonight reports popularised it and increased public awareness of the presence of LFTB in processed beef. As The New York Times reported on 31st December 2009, the phrase was first used internally by the US Department of Agriculture: "department microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, called the processed beef "pink slime" in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues". Jamie Oliver also used the term, in a 12th April 2009 episode of Food Revolution: "a new world of food. It's called pink slime."