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5 food writers subpoenaed in 'pink slime' lawsuit

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 29, 2014 at 7:55 pm •  Published: July 29, 2014
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Several food writers, including a New York Times reporter, have been subpoenaed by a meat producer as part of its $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC in regards to the network's coverage of a beef product dubbed "pink slime" by critics.

The subpoenas were issued to five writers — three reporters for the online Food Safety News, Times reporter Michael Moss and noted food writer Michele Simon — asking each to supply copies of any communications they had with ABC in 2012.

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.

ABC's attorneys say that in each of its broadcasts about the product, the network stated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture deemed the product safe to eat. They say BPI might not like the phrase pink slime, but like all ground beef, it's pink and has a slimy texture.

A spokesman for ABC on Tuesday declined to comment on the lawsuit and the subpoenas. Attorneys for the network and BPI have proposed a February 2017 trial date.

Attorney Bruce Johnson in Seattle is representing the editor of Food Safety News, Dan Flynn, reporter James Andrews, and former reporter Gretchen Goetz. Johnson on Tuesday said the subpoenas were "overreaching" and that the publication would fight the requests.

BPI attorney Erik Connolly said the subpoenas are "appropriate and would be enforced."

A spokeswoman for the New York Times said Moss's subpoena had been stayed.

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