Former Beef Worker Sues Chef Jamie Oliver, ABC News & Diane Sawyer Over “Pink Slime”

The beef industry isn’t about to forget about that whole “pink slime” thing, wherein ABC News and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver used the phrase to bring attention to a widely used product known as lean finely textured beef. Beef Products Inc. filed suit against ABC back in September, and now a former employee of the company is suing the news network, anchor Diane Sawyer, Oliver and others, claiming he lost his job because of  the pink slime controversy.
The former employee was one of the 750 people laid off by the beef company earlier this year after the whirlwind of bad press surrounding concerns about the safety of the product, reports the Los Angeles Times. Finely textured beef is treated with ammonia to safeguard against food-borne pathogens and is AOK with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But by calling it pink slime, the employee says the defendants were suggesting to the public that the product was unsafe to eat.

“My former employer was maliciously and needlessly maligned and accused of producing a food product that did not exist — a product derisively, repeatedly, and relentlessly called ‘pink slime’ by traditional TV broadcast and print media, in concert with social internet media critics, bloggers, politicians, and celebrity entertainers,” the man said in a statement.

Many schools, supermarkets and restaurants dropped finely textured beef in response to the controversy, leaving companies like Beef Products with little to do. It stopped production at three of its plants and laid off workers in South Dakota at its headquarters.

The plaintiff was Beef Product Inc.’s senior counsel and director of environmental health and safety and was laid off in May after four years with the company. He blames “irrational hype and hysteria” for the “extreme hardship” he and his co-workers suffered in the civil suit filed this week. He’s seeking $70,000 in damages.

Beef worker sues Diane Sawyer, Jamie Oliver over “pink slime” [Los Angeles Times]