Fake meat boomed this spring when coronavirus outbreaks in packing houses led to media worries of possible disruptions in the meat supply. Those stories proved to be unfounded and now, fake meat has its own public perception issue. Even though no country of origin labeling is required, the truth is, the product is made from vegetation grown in China.
According to a story in an April issue of Newsweek, ”China’s food-processing factories provide most of what goes into vegan burger patties” and other fake meat items manufactured by Beyond Meat and Impossible foods. One specific Chinese company provides 85 per cent of the pea protein used in the fake meat.
This is in spite of a long term, worldwide concern about China’s lack of sanitary standards. Food poisoning in China is extremely common. Internationally, Chinese companies have been held responsible for numerous horrendous failures in food safety. In 2007, federal heath officials told Americans to dispose of all Chinese-made toothpaste due to contamination with antifreeze. Also in 2007, a Chinese-supplied chemical used to make pet food was contaminated with melamine, causing the death of thousands of American and Canadian pets.
But those cases are just the tip of a very large iceberg. In 2008, Chinese baby milk was found to be contaminated. 54,000 Chinese infants were hospitalized in that incident.
The company Shuanghui International, which supplies the vegetable matter for the fake meat , also owns the American company Smithfield Foods. Food Safety News reported that Shuanghui has been plagued by constant complaints of food poisoning and illegal levels of bacteria and illegal additives in their meat.
It should be obvious we need strong standards and strong County of Origin labeling, and we need them on all food products, not just meat.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.