Rural counties dominated by meatpacking plants endured their second surge in coronavirus cases during this winter but the latest wave "does not appear to be driven by new outbreaks in the meatpacking industry," said the USDA. "Meatpacking-dependent counties have maintained an almost identical pattern to other rural counties for the last seven months."
Plant-based meats, an alternative to beef, pork and chicken, have only a toehold in the meat market but U.S. farmers expect their market share will grow rapidly. Half of the farmers surveyed by Purdue University said plant-based proteins could hold up to 10 percent of the meat market in five years and some expected the share to be much larger.
Creating cell-based meat that tastes and feels like muscle cuts from livestock has been one of the challenges of the young industry. Now, a team of researchers at Harvard's engineering school said they have grown rabbit and bovine muscle cells on edible gelatin 'scaffolds' that mimic the texture and consistency of naturally produced meat.
The two major food-safety regulators in the federal government will hear from the public on Oct. 23 and 24 on how to handle cell-based meat, a technological innovation that is nearing the marketplace. The meeting, announced on Monday, follows suggestions by the meat processors and Memphis Meats, a leader in the nascent industry, that the administration clarify lines of authority over cell-based meat.
The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting Thursday on the safety and labeling of alternative “meat” proteins produced with animal cell culture technology. In a packed room, FDA employees, industry stakeholders, and scientists discussed current trends in the controversial sector, which some imagine could reshape how Americans consume meat. (No paywall)
More than a century ago, Congress put the USDA in charge of meat safety, including regulation of slaughterhouses and packing plants. A rider on the USDA-FDA funding bill for fiscal 2019, scheduled for a House Appropriations Committee vote on Wednesday, would expand the USDA's food safety portfolio to cover lab-grown meat, variously called clean meat by proponents and fake meat by ranchers.
With beef production accounting for nearly half of all land use and greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, the World Resources Institute is touting what it calls a better burger.
On average, food companies improved their management of water by 10 percent compared to 2015, according to the report Feeding Ourselves Thirsty, published by the nonprofit investor coalition Ceres.
With the opening of a new factory, the plant-based company Impossible Burger says it plans to have its much-anticipated burgers on 1,000 menus by the end of 2017. “In mid-August, a factory in Oakland quietly began accepting shipments of wheat protein, potato protein, and heme, a “plant blood” produced via genetically modified yeast, says New Food Economy.
The market for plant-based foods grew an average of 8.1 percent last year, compared to a decline of 0.2 percent for all other foods, according to data compiled by the retail sales research group, Nielsen. According to the report, which was funded by the The Good Food Institute and Plant Based Foods Association, the market for plant-based meats specifically rose 6 percent from a year ago, while plant-based dairy alternatives saw 20 percent growth. Nielsen found a 5-percent decrease in cow-milk sales, but a 3.1-percent increase in sales of plant-based milk.