ELK POINT, S.D. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked an exemption that allowed a Dakota Dunes-based beef processor to skip routine safety testing after learning the company had not followed guidelines in studies used to justify the exemption.

Beef Products Inc. submitted studies to the department when it asked for the testing exemption on its suppliers of raw materials used for its Lean Finely Textured Beef product. The studies showed that elevated pH levels would kill certain illness-causing bacteria. But in December 2009 USDA revoked the exemption after an official wrote to the company saying the department learned that BPI was not using a process to raise the acidity to the levels cited in the studies.

In fact, attorney Dane Butswinkas said, BPI had never raised the pH in its products to levels cited in the studies, even at the time when the company applied for the exemption. Rich Jochum, BPI’s general counsel, conceded that the company had not met the pH standard cited in the studies, but he said USDA had always been aware of that.

Jochum was on the stand for a second day on Monday in BPI’s $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against American Broadcasting Corp. for a series of stories that ABC reported in March 2012.

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Jurors saw videos of the broadcasts Monday, as well as online…