Beyond Meat’s Pennsylvania processing plant could be riddled with bacteria – leaked documents claim Listeria and mold had been found in the facility 11 times in less than a year.
Listeria, a foodborne bacteria, was detected in the plant during the second half of last year and the first half of 2022, according to Bloomberg, which viewed the documents.
A Beyond Meat spokesperson told DailyMail.com that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducted inspections in the plant in March 2022 and September 2022 and found ‘no instances of nonconformance with regulations.’
The leaked documents, however, claim there was an unsafe use of equipment, mold on walls and ingredients, and non-food items had contaminated the meat substitute product, including metal, wood, string and plastic.
The facility is located in Devault, which sits 45 minutes outside Philadelphia.
The Bloomberg report noted the information came from unnamed sources, who said food products had tested positive for listeria.
Beyond Meat refuted the allegations in the Bloomberg report with a spokesperson saying that its plant conditions were ‘stringent, going above and beyond industry and regulatory standards.’
The Beyond Meat spokesperson told DailyMail: ‘Beyond Meat’s food safety protocols go above industry and regulatory standards and we are confident that the food we produce is safe. ‘
However, if accurate, images shared with Bloomberg tell a different story.
One shows a trolley cart turned upside down in production equipment that appears to process the meatless meat and another features containers with apparent mold.
Photographs claiming to have been taken in April show ingredients on the floor covered in dirt and an unknown liquid, while another shows mold growing on the wall ‘in the facility,’ Bloomberg reports.
While Beyond Meat said the facility was inspected in March and September, the leaked documents claim the last Listeria incident was identified in May.
Listeria is eliminated from food when cooked, but most Beyond Meat’s products, such as hamburger patties and sausages, are sold raw.
Martin Bucknavage, a food-safety expert at Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Food Science, told Bloomberg it ‘would be highly unusual’ to have the level of Listeria reported in the internal document.
‘Although we’re seeing snapshots, there’s enough there that we’re seeing a lot of cleanup that needs to get done,’ Bucknavage said after viewing photos from inside the plant and the list tracking Listeria tests.
Bucknavage, while looking at the photos, said it is hard to determine the story behind the dirty ingredients, as they could be in an area of discarded items.
He continued to explain that a company still does not want something so filthy inside a plant where food is processed.
A spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture told Bloomberg that a September 21 visit to the facility was not to conduct an inspection, as Beyond Meat told DailyMail.com, but was regarding the plant’s unpaid registration.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not inspected the plant since Beyond Meat purchased it, an FDA spokesperson told Bloomberg.
The leaked documents follow news that Beyond Meat has seen a significant dip in its revenue.
Estimates for Beyond Meat’s second-quarter revenue have fallen by 10 percent over the last three months, according to Refinitiv IBES data that was shared in August.
And the company reported a $100 million net loss in May.
Beyond Meat seemed poised to dominate the faux-meat market after announcing in early 2021 a three-year partnership with McDonald’s, as well as agreements with major fast food players like KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway, among others.
But none of the test runs have resulted in long-term success, with many of Beyond Meat’s partners either not expanding their plant-based options to more restaurants or eliminating the menu items.
In September, Beyond Meat executives announced that its Chief Operating Officer Doug Ramsey, 53, has been suspended immediately for allegedly biting a man’s nose.