Image Source: Matt Chase
Plant-based meat has taken a hit recently. Fast-food chains like Burger King, Dunkin’, and McDonald’s have been slow to adopt it, consumers have softened on buying it, and Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods each announced layoffs. Could lab-grown animal fat improve the taste and texture of plant-based meat products and change the game? Will vegetarians and vegans eat plant-based meats that include lab-grown animal fat? These questions and more explored in this deep dive from intrepid reporter Yasmin Tayag.
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A Costco rotisserie chicken costs $4.99, a ridiculously low price made possible by slashing production costs. That means growing chickens so fast and so fat that they can’t stand up to reach food or water, according to two Costco shareholders allegations. Their lawsuit claims that animal mistreatment is "an integral part of the company's poultry production strategy and its business model," violating Nebraska and Iowa livestock welfare laws. We shall see if the judge agrees.
Image Source: Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg
One of the most controversial foods, foie gras is banned in several countries and US cities like New York and Chicago. To revive the market, the public investment bank Bpifrance (backed by the French government) has chipped into a $10 million development fund for a kinder, gentler foie gras. Introduced by startup company Gourmey, the product is made from duck stem cells grown in bioreactor tanks. Some tasters say it's a fair match for the real thing. You can taste for yourself in a little over a year when Gourmey's faux gras hits the market.
Image Source: ReGrained/Upcycled Food Association
Earlier this year, the Upcycled Food Association (UFA) established certification standards to help reduce global food waste. This month, UFA certified its first food product, SuperGrain+ flour made by baked goods company ReGrained. The flour is recycled from spent grain produced by breweries and is high in protein, dietary fiber, and prebiotics. The US beer industry generates more than 20 billion pounds of spent grain per year, and according to ReGrained, every pound of its upcycled flour prevents the carbon dioxide equivalent of burning 1 pound of coal and saves more than 300 gallons of water. Does the flour have an aftertaste of beer? Find out by trying ReGrained's line of crunchy snacks. SuperGrain+ flour is the main ingredient.
Image Source: AP Photo/Stephen Groves
Slaughterhouses around the country have been participating in a pilot program allowing them to process up to 1,450 hogs per hour, a significant increase over the previous maximum line speed of 1,106 hogs. The National Pork Producers Council and North American Meat Institute have been lobbying to make the faster line speeds permanent, but the USDA recently rejected their requests due to worker safety concerns. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union International, which represents 33,000 workers, welcomed the decision as well as the USDA's commitment to strengthening worker safety protections. As processors revert to previous maximum line speeds as of June 30, consumer prices may be affected. If processors decide to supply less pork to the market, wholesale and retail prices for ham, pork chops and bacon may go up.