Memphis Meats, a San Francisco Bay–area company that is developing technology to grow meat from self-reproducing cells, raised $17 million in funding from investors that included Cargill, one of the largest U.S. meatpackers. “Cargill’s investment is the first by a traditional meat company in to the ‘clean meat’ sector,” said Drovers CattleNetwork.
The world's largest meat company, JBS, entwined in a corruption scandal in its home country of Brazil, hired as its global food security Al Almanza, who just retired as head of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Organization for Competitive Markets, which focuses on agricultural antitrust issues, called the hiring "the latest of the scandalous job swapping between government and the meat industry."
The United States needs a comprehensive approach to red meat and poultry safety that begins at the farm levels, says a report released today by Pew Charitable Trusts. Titled, "Food safety from farm to fork," the report says on-the-farm "interventions," such as using vaccines and other treatments, "can significantly reduce the risk" of harmful bacteria.
Activism around the contentious issue of giving antibiotics to meat animals is moving from the farm to the plate by putting pressure on restaurant chains. Last week, a coalition of 30 consumer and environmental groups pressed the cult California burger chain In-N-Out to change its antibiotics-related buying policy. At the same time, a shareholder group pushed McDonald’s to increase its antibiotic-free buying — and while the measure did not pass, 30 percent of shareholders voted for it.
JBS chairman Joesley Batista and chief executive Wesley Batista resigned from senior posts "in a corruption scandal that threatens to topple Brazil's president Michel Temer," said Reuters. The brothers, who own the world's largest meat producer, which has operations in the United States, admitted to paying $150 million, mostly in bribes, to nearly 2,000 politicians in Brazil, including its past three presidents, said the Wall Street Journal.
Brazil's environmental regulator says that meatpacking giant JBS "for years knowingly bought cattle that were raised on illegally deforested land," says Reuters. JBS denied the allegation, which comes at the same time the Brazilian meat industry is reeling from a meat-inspection scandal.
The giant U.S. food processor Tyson Foods launched a $150-million venture-capital fund "to invest in high-tech products and services that could refresh its stable of products, which include chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers," reports the Wall Street Journal. One focus of the fund will be alternative forms of protein, a field that includes plant-based foods, insect-based protein products, meat grown from self-reproducing cells and meat from 3-D printers.
Five weeks after the Canadian meat industry suggested the government should withdraw support from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the Health Ministry has its answer: No, thank you. As iPolitics reports: "No adjustments to their support would be necessary at this time," said a spokesman for Minister Jean Philpott.
In the closing months of his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack is making one last stab at being a trustbuster. Late last week, the USDA quietly moved forward with an effort to strengthen its antitrust authority over the handful of companies that dominate America’s meat system. The action raised hopes for advocates who have pushed for years to toughen antitrust laws, and it already has met resistance from meat companies and their lobbyists. What’s less clear is whether the action will have any meaningful impact.