Beyond Meat Manufacturing Facility Contaminated with Mold, Listeria: Report

Bits of metal and plastic have also been found in Beyond Meat products made at the Pennsylvania manufacturing facility.

Widespread food safety issues have been identified at a Pennsylvania manufacturing facility for Beyond Meat, a popular plant-based meat alternative for vegan diets, according to internal documents and photos shared with Bloomberg News, which show mold and listeria contamination problems.

According to a report issued this week by Bloomberg, leaked information details pervasive problems in the Pennsylvania Beyond Meat Inc. plant, which is slated to play a major role in the company’s vegan meat substitute market expansion.

The documents indicate products from the plant tested positive for Listeria at least 11 times in 2021 and 2022. The information was leaked by a former Beyond Meat employee, and was corroborated to Bloomberg News by two current employees, who asked to remain anonymous.

Beyond Meat Manufacturing Problems

Photos and reports detail mold on walls, ingredient storage containers and equipment, as well as dirty facilities, unsafe equipment, and strange factors, like a trolley cart overturned inside a production funnel.

Other documents report foreign objects like string, metal, wood, and plastic found in food from the plant as recently as December 2021. Some products have made it through to the consumer level, and reports of wood and metal were received at various restaurants.

Due to the problem, a Beyond Meat recall was issued earlier this year for burger patties sold at Costcos in Canada.

Internal spreadsheets highlight weekly contamination test results with 11 incidents of Listeria confirmed, most recently in May.

Inspections by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in March show no violations and a visit in September, not to inspect the facility, for unpaid registration. This is a $35 fee that was outstanding for nearly one year. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t inspected the facility since Beyond meat purchased it.

Beyond Meat responded to the Bloomberg report by saying company protocols go beyond regulatory standards, but the company didn’t comment on the internal documents shared with the news outlet. Additionally, mold growth can take some time, which highlights a lack of cleanliness.

Listeria Food Poisoning Risks

The listeria monocytogenes organism can cause symptoms like high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly and young children, it can be fatal. Among pregnant women, listeria monocytogenes infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

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Symptoms typically begin one to four weeks after eating contaminated food but can occur as soon as the same day. In some cases, the bacteria will spread beyond the gut and lead to complications.

Listeria is killed during cooking. However, Beyond Meat retail products are sold raw and must be cooked by the consumer. If products with listeria made it to retail shelves, consumers have a high chance of coming in contact with the bacteria.

The news of the serious violations at the Beyond Meat plant comes amid a 12% drop in alternative meat sales in the past year and declining stock prices. Plans to expand the facility and increase production are on hold as the company reduces spending amid inflation and reduced demand for plant-based meat, which is more expensive to produce than animal meat.

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