ABC’s Avila Slimes Mother Whose Son Died from E Coli

One beef company declares bankruptcy after media assault.

ABC News senior correspondent Jim Avila has a new target for his “pink slime” crusade – a mother whose 6-year-old son died from E coli. Avila, whose coverage has targeted Beef Products, Inc., went after the company’s supporters at an Iowa press conference.

At the same time, one beef maker has had to file for bankruptcy protection as a result of the media assault. “AFA Foods, a company that produces beef products, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today and announced it’s selling some assets because of a decrease in demand attributed to the recent media coverage of ‘pink slime.’” The company employs 850 people, adding to the 650 already furloughed thanks to the news media.

The Sioux City Journal reported on a beef industry press conference where Avila targeted both Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Nancy Donley, founder of STOP Foodborne Illness, because of funding from BPI.

Sioux City Journal reporter Dan Dreeszen captured the exchange among Avila, Donley and the head of BPI. Avila asked about funding for her organization that might have come from BPI:

"You have no class. Do you know that?" BPI co-founder Eldon Roth, seated in the audience, said to Avila before Donley replied that her group had not concealed the contributions.

Donley said she is "very grateful" for the support from BPI and other companies.

"BPI has never asked for a single thing, ever. We will never be compromised in our position of protecting consumers from pathogens in the food supply. My goal is to put my organization out of business so there are no foodborne victims any more.

"I will also tell you this," she told Avila. "No price will be put on my son's head."

Avila had earlier challenged Branstad asking “if his support had ‘anything to do’ with $150,000 in campaign contributions he has received from BPI founders,” according to the paper. “Absolutely not. I will always fight for my constituents, and fight for what's right,” Branstad told the press conference.

The press conference was in response to weeks of hammering by the news media over complaints about a healthy, FDA-approved product. In about two weeks, ABC did 10 stories on the issue, mentioning the activist term “pink slime” 52 times.