Beyond Gross: Fake Meat Company Cited for Mold and 'Dirty Conditions' at Factory

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

They call the creation of laws “sausage making” for a reason. A lot of people wouldn’t enjoy their steaks and chops so much if they saw how they were made.

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As it turns out, creating soy burgers and other “meat substitutes” isn’t much better — or safer. According to a report in Bloomberg, a plant operated by the fake meat company Beyond Meat is a veritable petri dish of really gross and nasty stuff.

“Products from the plant tested positive for Listeria, a harmful bacteria, on at least 11 occasions during the second half of last year and the first half of 2022, according to an internal document provided by a former employee concerned about conditions at the plant,” reported the news site.

It gets worse.

Photos taken by a former employee from inside the plant in January and April show what appear to be spills, unsafe use of equipment, and mold on walls and ingredient containers, while spreadsheets, photos and internally prepared reports reveal that foreign materials such as string, metal, wood and plastic have been found in food from the plant at least as recently as last December.

Inspections by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in March and September “found no instances of nonconformance with regulations,” and the company’s food-safety protocols “go above and beyond industry and regulatory standards,” a spokesperson for Beyond Meat said. The company didn’t comment on its internal documents or specific details about the conditions in its plant, such as the apparent presence of mold and references to safety violations.

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Ew.

It should be noted that all of the company’s wounds are probably not self-inflicted. There’s been an open campaign by large food processing and ag companies to discredit Beyond Meat and other meat substitute companies. And while the violations are real, how much of the spin is helped along by competitors looking to injure Beyond Meat?

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Otherwise, the outfit has struggled with a mercurial CEO, Ethan Brown, who has driven his company into the ground.

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Brown has said Beyond and other meat-alternative companies are facing challenges as they compete with less expensive real meat at a time of inflation and consumer uncertainty over the health benefits of what many see as highly processed products.

As he started his company, Mr. Brown licensed a process developed by University of Missouri researchers that combined proteins from plants into a molecular structure resembling animal muscle. Beyond’s patties are made by extracting protein from yellow peas and other sources and mixing it with ingredients such as canola oil, potato starch and beet juice color to produce burgers that suggest ground beef.

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If someone wants to eat fake steaks and fake burgers and tell themselves that they’re “just like the real thing,” they can be my guest. You say tomato, I say tomahto. I say meat, you say fake meat made from plants. To each his own.

But why the insufferable sense of superiority from Beyond Meat users? It’s like they’re on a crusade to convert people to eating vegetables and pretending that it’s meat. Plus, creating my dinner in a lab isn’t any more appetizing than what comes out of a meat processing plant.

Besides, there’s nothing like the smell of a steak on the grill. No amount of laboratory tomfoolery would be able to recreate that aroma. It brings out the caveman in us.

That’s something that grilling plants will never do.

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