Jamie Oliver is at the centre of a $1.2b (£730m) lawsuit over his efforts to draw the US public attention to "pink slime", a controversial form of mechanically separated meat.
The celebrity chef's comments on an episode of Oliver's Food Revolution have drawn the ire of Beef Products, a South Dakota processing firm, according to The Independent.
It is now suing the broadcaster ABC for allegedly spreading "false and defamatory" information about the product, which it describes as lean, finely textured beef.
Beef Products said the comments were first aired in May 2011, when Oliver told viewers that "pink slime" was 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, he alleged, then used to bulk out such products as mince, burgers and pies. Following Oliver's report, the processed meat became the focus of a number of hostile news stories, nationwide controversy and a consumer boycott.
But Beef Products insists that the product is safe and healthy because it carries less fat than normal beef and that the chef made "false statements" about the trimmings used to make the product, and criticised his portrayal of the production process.
It claims that what it describes as unfair coverage has resulted in sales plummeting by 80%, forcing the closure of three of its four plants and the redundancy of around 700 workers and monthly losses in revenue of around $20m.
A spokesman for Oliver, who has since moved back to the UK and is not named as a defendant, declined to comment. But ABC issued a statement claiming: "The lawsuit is without merit. We will contest it vigorously."
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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