Hormel, Kellogg’s Getting Into the Plant-Based Meat Business
By Elizabeth Pratt
- Hormel, Kellogg's, and Kroger are among the large companies now planning to offer "fake meat" products at grocery stores.
- Experts say the trend toward plant-based meats coincides with consumers' desires to eat less meat.
- However, experts urge consumers to closely check package labels as a product isn't necessarily healthy just because it's described as plant-based.
In grocery stores and fast-food outlets around the U.S., a revolution is taking place.
Alternatives to meat may not be new, but recent improvements to the products, such as fake meats that really "bleed" and fake chicken that tastes like the real thing, have led to a surge in popularity of faux meats.
Now, traditional food companies such as Kellogg's, Tyson, and Kroger are also jumping on the fake meat bandwagon.
"Plant-based meat products have become a hot item in grocery stores and fast-food restaurants. With the growing interest in flexitarianism, or incorporating more vegetarian options into their diet, this trend doesn't surprise me," Lauri Wright, PhD, an assistant professor in public health at the University of South Florida, told Healthline.
"I view increased access to more plant-based food options as very positive both for our health and the health of the environment," she said. "Alternative meat products have been around for years. What is different now is the growing variety of products and improved taste, which I think means this is a trend that is here to stay."
The rise of alternative proteins into the mainstream diet has seen big name outlets partner with companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Burgers to make faux meats easily accessible for consumers.
Consumers can now buy Impossible Foods and Beyond Burgers in grocery stores as well as at fast-food restaurants.
More Companies Jumping In
Traditional competitors are taking note.
Tyson Foods, well known for its chicken products, has introduced a new range of plant-based nuggets. Earlier this month, it also announced a new venture to create plant-based shellfish. The company hopes to create a plant-based alternative to shrimp by 2020.
This fall, Kroger will be launching its own line of plant-based meats to appear alongside regular meats in stores.
Morningstar Farms, owned by Kellogg's, is also introducing a range of realistic plant-based meats under the name "Incogmeato."
Last week, Hormel Foods, famous for its Spam products, introduced a line of meat substitutes called Happy Little Plants.
Appealing to Consumers
The new products are a move Dana Hunnes, PhD, a senior dietitian at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, says will appeal to a growing number of people interested in plant-based diets.
"People want their cake and get to eat it, too," she told Healthline. "People want to eat meat but also want to eat it in a healthier/better-for-the-planet sort of way. These new fake meats are a perfect mixture of meaty flavor, meaty texture, and are good for the Earth."
"I think with younger generations going on the bandwagon of eating more plant-based and trying to protect the environment, as climate change is becoming ever more serious, these fake meats are the opportunity people have been looking for to still eat 'meat' without doing all the damage," Hunnes added.
Wright says that easily accessible fake meats may also decrease the amount of meat Americans are eating.
"The typical American diet is still primarily 'meat and potatoes' based. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consumed over 200 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018. That translates into 10 ounces per day, which is twice the amount recommended by health agencies. Increased access to plant-based meats could help decrease the intake of meat while increasing vegetable consumption," she said.
Are Fake Meats Healthy?
Some have raised concerns over the healthiness of fake meats.
The chief executive officer of Whole Foods says he won't endorse the products, citing the fact they're often highly processed.
It's a claim many of the experts who spoke with Healthline say is reasonable to keep in mind.
"Plant-based isn't always equivalent to healthy and I think that plant-based meats may be wearing a 'health halo,'" Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, founder of McDaniel Nutrition Therapy, told Healthline. "If a consumer doesn't read the nutrition facts label or ingredient list, these plant-based meats may be misleadingly healthier than they actually are. It is important to remember that just because a food is plant-based doesn't mean it is healthy or healthier than its meat counterpart."
"Consumers should look for products that use more whole ingredients like beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables compared to the more ultra-processed ingredients," she said.
"Overall, the less-processed forms of plant-based meat alternatives are ideal. Consumers should also compare sodium when choosing plant-based meats. In a chart comparing plant-based burgers to a beef burger, there was almost five times more sodium in the plant-based option versus the beef," she added.
Debbie Petitpain, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees. She says there are many ways people can incorporate healthy meat-free options in their own kitchen.
"Fake meats are no substitute for minimally processed, whole, plant foods," she told Healthline. "Plant proteins like beans, lentils, and soy including tofu and tempeh promote health and prevent chronic disease… it's easy to find recipes that use these foods or foods like eggplant, jackfruit, mushrooms, potatoes, cauliflower, and quinoa to replace meat in dishes from tacos to burgers, lasagna to chili. Your imagination is your only limitation."
But as more and more people introduce meat-free Monday and more plant-based options to their diets, she says it makes sense for companies to embrace changing attitudes toward meat.
"As the world's population explodes, the food supply will be stressed. Large food companies and food distributors play an integral role in the adaptations that will need to be made. It's simply good business sense to offer food options that will be key in this transition. Americans' appetite are changing — they're demanding and enjoying products made from plants that resemble foods, like meat, that are familiar to them," she said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Biggest exporters of plastic. Statista
Waste Export Ban<p>Australia has adopted a strategy of taking responsibility for its own waste. Starting in January 2021, it is phasing in <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/waste-export-ban" target="_blank">bans on the export of different forms of waste</a>. By mid 2024, Australia's home-grown recycling industry will have to deal with an extra 650,000 tons of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires.</p><p>"As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy," federal environment minister Sussan Ley said in a <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">statement to Reuters</a>.</p>
Timeline for Australia's waste export ban. Australian Government
Trash Into Treasure<p>The benefits to the environment of boosting recycling rates are well known – less landfill, less plastic in our ocean, reduced need for virgin materials, and lower carbon emissions. The Recycling Modernization Fund initiative aims to divert more than 10 million tons of waste from landfill, part of an <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-action-plan" target="_blank">overall strategy to reduce the total waste generated per person by 10%</a>, and push <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/7381c1de-31d0-429b-912c-91a6dbc83af7/files/national-waste-report-2018.pdf" target="_blank">Australia's total resource recovery rate from 58% in 2017</a> to 80% by 2030.</p><p>But like many countries, Australia is focusing on the economic benefits of better waste management as well.</p><p>"This will mean Australia converts more waste into higher valued resources ready for reuse locally by manufacturers and brands in their packaging and products," Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">told Reuters</a>.</p>
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The Great American Outdoors Act is now the law of the land.
<div id="e0008" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffc07febbf5d2d585ad06d3f43e2be56"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290667833999929344" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Breaking News: The President has just signed the bipartisan #GreatAmericanOutdoorsAct. It will help: 🏗️ Restore… https://t.co/RPefKPMn7S</div> — Fix Our Parks (@Fix Our Parks)<a href="https://twitter.com/FixOurParksUS/statuses/1290667833999929344">1596554165.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Andrew J. Whelton and Caitlin R. Proctor
In recent years wildfires have entered urban areas, causing breathtaking destruction.
Survivors left everything to flee the Camp Fire's path. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Wildfires and Water<p>Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were common. The Camp Fire inferno spread at a speed of one football field per second, chasing everyone – including water system operators – out of town.</p><p>After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials</a>.</p>
Pipes, water meters and meter covers after wildfires destroyed them. Caitlin Proctor, Amisha Shah, David Yu, and Andrew Whelton/Purdue University
Dangerous Contamination Levels<p>Benzene was found at concentrations of 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water after the Tubbs Fire and at more than 2,217 ppb after the Camp Fire. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, children exposed to benzene for a single day can suffer <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Benzene-Levels-in-Water.pdf" target="_blank">harm at levels as low as 26 ppb</a>.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting children's short-term acute exposure to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-03/documents/dwtable2018.pdf" target="_blank">200 ppb</a>, and long-term exposure to less than <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations" target="_blank">5 ppb</a>. The EPA regulatory level for what constitutes a hazardous waste is <a href="https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/tclp.pdf" target="_blank">500 ppb</a>.</p><p>In early 2019, California conducted contaminated water testing on humans by taking contaminated water from the Paradise Irrigation District and asking persons to smell it. The state found that even when people smelled contaminated water that had less than 200 ppb benzene, <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Dissipatiion-of-Burn-Related-VOC-From-Water.pdf" target="_blank">at least one person reported nausea and throat irritation</a>. The test also showed that water contained a variety of other benzene-like compounds that first responders had not sampled for.</p><p>The officials who carried out this small-scale test did not appear to realize the significance of what they had done, until we asked whether they had had their action approved in advance by an institutional review board. In response, they asserted that such a review was not needed.</p><p>In our view, this episode is telling for two reasons. First, one subject reported an adverse health effect after being exposed to water that contained benzene at a level below the EPA's recommended one-day limit for children. Second, doing this kind of test without proper oversight suggests that officials greatly underestimated the potential for serious contamination of local water supplies and public harm. After the Camp Fire, together with the EPA, we estimated that some plastic pipes needed <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/opinions/Final-HDPE-Service-Line-Decontamination-2019-03-18.pdf" target="_blank">more than 280 days</a> of flushing to make them safe again.</p>
Plastic pipes can be damaged by heat and fire contact. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Building Codes Could Make Areas Disaster-Ready<p>Our research underscores that community building codes are inadequate to prevent wildfire-caused pollution of drinking water and homes.</p><p>Installing one-way valves, called backflow prevention devices, at each water meter can prevent contamination rushing out of the damaged building from flowing into the larger buried pipe network.</p><p>Adopting codes that required builders to install fire-resistant meter boxes and place them farther from vegetation would help prevent infrastructure from burning so readily in wildfires. Concrete meter boxes and water meters with minimal plastic components would be less likely to ignite. Some plastics may be practically impossible to make safe again, since all types are susceptible to fire and heat.</p><p>Water main shutoff valves and water sampling taps should exist at every water meter box. Sample taps can help responders quickly determine water safety.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9540d7e271306ed417112042a3efc9a4"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GnlrzI1wdAI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Smell Test Doesn’t Work<p>Under no circumstance should people be told to <a href="https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2018/pr122418_voc.pdf" target="_blank">smell the water</a> to determine its safety, as was recommended for months after the Camp Fire. Many chemicals have no odor when they are harmful. Only testing can determine safety.</p><p>Ordering people to boil their water will not make it safe if it contains toxic chemicals that enter the air. Boiling just transmits those substances into the air faster. "Do not use" orders can keep people safe until agencies can test the water. Before such advisories are lifted or modified, regulators should be required to carry out a full chemical screen of the water systems. Yet, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">disaster</a> after <a href="https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2017/ew/c5ew00294j" target="_blank">disaster</a>, government agencies have failed to take this step.</p><p>Buildings should be tested to find contamination. <a href="https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q1/study-your-homes-water-quality-could-vary-by-the-room-and-the-season.html" target="_blank">Home drinking water quality can differ from room to room</a>, so reliable testing should sample both cold and hot water at many locations within each building.</p><p>While infrastructure is being repaired, survivors need a safe water supply. Water treatment devices sold for home use, such as refrigerator and faucet water filters, are not approved for extremely contaminated water, although product sales representatives and government officials may <a href="https://undark.org/2019/09/19/camp-fire-california-drinking-water-carcinogens/" target="_blank">mistakenly think</a> the devices can be used for that purpose.</p><p>To avoid this kind of confusion, external technical experts should be called in assist local public health departments, which can quickly become overwhelmed after disasters.</p>
<div id="71cf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e059d199e8368d282a31601e372e4dda"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1204068265980547075" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee signed off on an effort to expand the city's fire-re… https://t.co/fP8Z8mUq7R</div> — IntlCodeCouncil (@IntlCodeCouncil)<a href="https://twitter.com/IntlCodeCouncil/statuses/1204068265980547075">1575907219.0</a></blockquote></div>
Preparing for Future Fires<p>The damage that the Tubbs and Camp fires caused to local water systems was preventable. We believe that urban and rural communities, as well as state legislatures, should establish codes and lists of authorized construction materials for high-risk areas. They also should establish rapid methods to assess health, prepare for water testing and decontamination, and set aside emergency water supplies.</p><p>Wildfires are coming to urban areas. Protecting drinking water systems, buried underground or in buildings, is one thing communities can do to prepare for that reality.</p>
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