Letter from the Editor: New Products

Sometime during the pandemic, I found myself at an Apple Store in Austin. I needed a replacement for my MacBook Air, and the nice lady who helped me suggested I add a $400 Apple Watch to my purchase.

“Why do I need a watch,” I asked him. Little did I know then about the watch I came to rely on to check my heart, record my exercise, and send my calls to voicemail. How did you live without the Apple Watch?

What I had not seen before that day in Austin was any Apple Watch hype. I am very immune and very resistant to noise. All Apple projects in the Steve Jobs era were not sold to us based on hype but on their actual performance in the market. They filled needs we didn’t even know existed.

Food Safety News Receives a steady stream of planned presentations of new products. I wouldn’t say we don’t sometimes deviate from a topic involving a new product, but it is our policy to avoid it. if Food Safety News He writes about a new product, the implication being that the new product will be safe.

There is no way we can know this without having some significant market exposure

We are watching the signs. We were surprised two years ago when the Palestinian Authority-based company Beyond Meat bet the “future of food” on a security-challenged China to produce its own plant-based products. Nor were we surprised last week when Bloomberg released photos of Beyond Meat’s houseplants that appeared to show evidence of mold, listeria, and other food safety uses.

Multiple positive tests for Listeria were said to have occurred over the past year and a half. Wood, metal and plastic were reportedly found in the product. Beyond Food has been able to point to their continuing good standing with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

It’s clear the company that’s rolling out a plant-based meat substitute isn’t having a good year. Its rollout deal with McDonald’s went bankrupt, its net loss for the year is $97.1 million, and it laid off 19 percent of its workforce.

There was a lot of buzz from others when Beyond Meat secured a deal to put a “McPlant” burger at 600 McDonald’s for a six-month trial program. But either not enough customers of the McDonald’s “McPlant” burger tried it or, most annoyingly, those who did tried it were put off by the taste. In either case, the pilot failed.

There’s also speculation that people stuck at home during the pandemic have tried grocery-store meat alternatives, and have not been satisfied. This reaction may be the reason for the halt in sales of Beyond Meat. It’s not a good sign for a young company.

Beyond Meat is just one of many plant-based startups. Meat and poultry grown in a lab from animal cells is another new product area.. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month approved UPSIDE FOODs’ plan to produce chicken in a lab from animal cells. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA has yet to sign off.

Although there is buzz around plant-based alternatives, growing meat and poultry in laboratories is likely to be greater if measured by venture capital and contract PR firms. Investors in UPSIDE FOODs include, for example, SoftBank Group, Temasek, Norwest, Threshold Ventures, Tyson Foods, Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Kimbal Musk, Whole Foods, and others.

When you’re downstream to all the new product pitches pouring in from campaigns where billions are at stake, it can seem like the wind never stops blowing. But that’s all the more reason why we’re careful not to get sucked into it. We need to constantly search for the food safety angle these plant-based and lab-based offerings have to beat or die.

I think the key to the safety of these lab shows is the labs themselves. It takes very little memory to remember the multi-billion dollar lab scandals.

That’s why we’ll continue to focus on food safety and not the type of these new product offerings. It would be ridiculous to do otherwise.

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