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[email protected]: Fungi-based SPAM? | Burger King's alternative chicken | Toxic metals still in baby food

Getty Images can spam meat canned
Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

Hormel partners with Better Meat Co. to develop next-gen products

Better Meat Co., a supplier of mycoprotein and plant-based protein ingredients, recently struck a deal with Hormel, most well known as the creator of canned meat product SPAM. The two companies will work together to create new products using the former's novel mycoprotein. Rhiza, as it's called, is made “via a potato-based fermentation pioneered by The Better Meat Co., and is an all-natural whole food mycoprotein with a remarkable meat-like texture. Boasting more protein than eggs and more iron than beef, Rhiza offers a new generation of sustainable animal-free protein for the burgeoning alternative meat market.” The Spoon has more details.

Burger King is bringing alternative chicken to its menu with Impossible nuggets

Starting Monday, Oct. 11, Burger King customers in Des Moines, Iowa, Boston and Miami can get their hands on Impossible Foods' meat-free chicken nuggets at the fast-food chain. Eater writes that the bar for chicken nugget substitutes is pretty low, but, then again, your average conventional frozen nugget isn't exactly an amazing culinary experience either. And this isn't just a play for the environment or cutting down on animal cruelty: Pandemic-era supply chain issues and labor shortages have pushed up the price of chicken and other meat, incentivizing major food businesses to invest in these food tech-driven alternative meat options.

Toxic metals still a big concern in baby foods

A new report contends that neither the Federal Drug Administration nor baby food manufacturers are doing enough to lower levels of toxic heavy metals (including arsenic, lead and cadmium) in baby food products. Testing revealed multiple samples of Beech-Nut’s and Gerber’s infant rice cereals contained more inorganic arsenic than FDA’s 100 parts per billion (ppb) limit, which is an already dangerously high standard that FDA is now lowering. Experts recommend federally mandated finished-product testing Food Politics reports as well as voluntarility phasing out toxic ingredients.

Food industry workers recount what drove them to quit en masse

Toxic work environments, poor pay and difficult customers: These are just three of many reasons employees at chain stores, restaurants and butcheries across the country quit their jobs in 2021. The $15 federal minimum wage movement is stagnant, alongside paid sick leave policy, despite a change in presidential leadership and a deadly pandemic. Additionally, COVID-19 safety protocols are still up to individual businesses to mandate, meaning workers' health and lives have gone largely unprotected in wide swaths of the country. The Counter delves into individual stories.

Cory Booker: We can't solve climate change or inequality without fixing our food system

While Senator Cory Booker was governor of Newark, the plethora of diet-related illnesses, particularly among children, moved him to closely monitor federal agricultural policy. Federal subsidies for crops such as corn allowed giant food companies to profitably flood areas including Newark with cheap and ultraprocessed fare. “The federal government was telling [Newark’s] children to eat healthy food, but they were doing nothing to make it accessible,” he said. “So that when children walk into a bodega, a Twinkie product is cheaper than an apple—and that Happy Meal that parents buy does not reflect the true cost to our environment to our health, to future generations," Booker told Mother Jones. This is, unfortunately, a common story in low-income regions nationwide.

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