British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, is at the centre of a controversy involving a $1.2bn lawsuit over efforts to draw public attention to a controversial form of mechanically separated meat popularly known as 'pink slime'.
According to The Independent, A beef processing company in the USA is suing the broadcaster, ABC for allegedly spreading ‘false and defamatory’ information about the product, which it describes as lean, finely textured beef.
The article says the offending slurs first hit the airwaves in May 2011, during an episode of Oliver's Food Revolution.
In a 257-page lawsuit, filed in South Dakota, the firm says that what it describes as unfair coverage caused its sales to drop by 80%, forcing the closure of three of its four plants. Roughly 700 workers lost their jobs and the company estimates that it is still losing $20m per month in revenue.
Oliver told viewers that ‘pink slime’ is made by using a high-speed centrifuge to separate small amounts of beef from parts of a butchered carcass. The meat is then treated with ammonia to make it safe for human consumption.
Beef Products Inc insists that Oliver and ABC deliberately misled viewers. It claims its product is both safe and healthy – because it carries less fat than normal beef.
The lawsuit reads:
"Oliver stated that, in the industry, the trimmings are referred to as 'shit'," "Oliver continued his false statements about the beef trimmings by stating they are 'not fit for human consumption' ... are 'sold at the cheapest form for dogs' ... and are 'full of anything from salmonella [to] E coli'."